Maïwenn directs a story of troubled lovers, with Vincent Cassel and Emmanuelle Bercot
A relationship drama turned up to 11, this fourth feature from French actress-turned-director Maïwenn is a high-velocity tale that sets out to deconstruct the undulating nature of a long-term coupling. Seen through the eyes of the already divorced Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot), the film is structured around lengthy flashbacks. Following a skiing accident and a bad leg break, Tony faces a long and painful recuperation in a physical rehabilitation centre. It leads her to reflect on her time with Georgio (Vincent Cassel), a handsome but wild restaurateur she first met in a club a decade earlier.
Their initial encounters capture the first flushes of love compellingly (when the perfectly cast, roguish Cassel chucks his keys to Tony when they first meet, it’s a real swoon-inducing moment). As the weeks and months pass, cracks inevitably do appear, the honeymoon period fizzles out and jealousies and insecurities amass. It doesn’t help that Georgio has dated a string of models – including the needy Agnès (Chrystèle Saint Louis Augustin), forever hovering on the periphery.
Some may argue that Maïwenn, who co-wrote the script with Etienne Comar, is not exactly breaking new ground here. With a rather excessive running time, perhaps the metaphor of healing – both a limb and a heart take time to repair wounds – is rather clumsy. But then this is a film where performances come first, and there can be no denying that both Cassel and Bercot invest a huge amount of energy and emotion into their characters.
Featuring Louis Garrel as Tony’s brother, it’s a film brimming with intensity. Bercot, who shared the Best Actress prize at Cannes last year with Carol’s Rooney Mara, fully deserved her win, although a wiry Cassel is every bit as impressive. It’s the sort of film you may find yourself tiring of but, if you simply go with it, it’s undeniably mesmerising in places.
Limited release from Fri 27 May.