A Faithful Man

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Louis GarreI: 'I talked to Jean-Claude and then I realised that we could be a good couple. That's because he has his age and I have got my age and sometimes, for example, I'm much more sentimental than him. Jean-Claude is very dry and rough and tough'
"Garrel knows his film is a confection rather than a banquet, so keeps things moving along at a serious clip" | Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

Actor Louis Garrel's second feature in the director's chair is a caprice of a film, knowingly taking on the age-old French theme of a love triangle, offering an enjoyable pastiche of the French New Wave in the process (one wonders what Garrel Snr makes of his generation being gently roasted by his fils).

Beginning with a shot of the Eiffel Tower, you can almost smell the Gauloises as the voice-over kicks in. It belongs to Abel (Garrel), who, within the space of less than five minutes learns that his long-term girlfriend Marianne (Laetitia Casta) is pregnant, but unfortunately not by him. In an indication of wry comedy that is to follow, he accepts this news - along with the bombshell that she's been having an affair with a good friend of his that she is to marry tout suite - with all the emotion of a man being told a weather report, even though he's clearly dying on the inside.

Eight years later, the 'lucky man' is dead, Marianne's son Joseph (Joseph Engel, whose name I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of) is precocious with an interest in crime and the dead man's sister Eve (Lily-Rose Depp) reveals - in voice-over that is craftily handed around like sweeties when you least expect it - that she has been secretly in love with Abel for years.

Garrel knows his film - co-written by Jean-Claude Carrière - is a confection rather than a banquet, so keeps things moving along at a serious clip - and the running time tight at 75 minutes - allowing his characters a level of pretension that he skewers at every turn. The tone is tricky and Garrel cuts it fine, but just when you think he might slip into full-on Stella Artois advert, he pulls back from the brink, giving the proceedings just enough acidity to keep things sharp.

As much concerned with the characters' fairy tale imaginings than what's under their noses - with Abel a sort of dozy innocent abroad subject to the whims and manipulation of everyone, including Joseph - the emotions that peep through the comedy nevertheless ring true. Fantasies and fancies may be trifled with but sometimes you have to have faith in humanity. Garrel keeps the faith.

Reviewed on: 22 Sep 2018
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Rom-com love triangle with added kid.

Director: Louis Garrel

Writer: Jean-Claude Carrière, Louis Garrel

Starring: Lily-Rose Depp, Louis Garrel, Laetitia Casta, Lily-Rose Depp, Louis Garrel, Laetitia Casta

Year: 2018

Runtime: 75 minutes

Country: France


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