Empty Days

Empty Days


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

They meet in the supermarket. It is a simple arrangement and yet it's not even that. Nothing is planned. She goes there, hoping to see him, and when she does, they shop and talk a little, and she waits every day for that moment, because being with him makes her feel better about herself.

She has three children and a husband to feed and has been unemployed for over a year. She buys special offers and processed foods, because they are cheap. They live in a highrise and she worries about her weight.

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"Time goes by," she tells him. "I look back and nothing's happened."

He has been unemployed for a shorter period. He goes to interviews for middle management jobs, without success. He is married to his second wife. They have a child. He says he is hyperactive and can't sit still. He smokes like a chimney and has a restless energy that is attractive to her.

The simplicity of the storyline is mirrored in the roughness of the handheld cinematography. What should be artless in its denial of studio aids is without pretension. As a short history of a relationship, it has an honesty that cuts through convention.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's performance is breathtakingly brilliant. Marie's lack of self-esteem comes across as a willingness to please and yet, beneath it, her feelings are in turmoil. Patrick Dell'Isola plays Pierre as a man trapped by his choices, in a marriage that only reminds him of failure, at an age when rejection has become commonplace.

Writer/director Marion Vernoux explores the complexity of an emotional journey, where hopes and dreams seldom coexist for long and words are like flags fluttering in the wind.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Two people from opposite ends of the social scale, both previously laid off from very different positions at the same company meet in the supermarket.

Director: Marion Vernoux

Writer: Santiago Amigorena

Starring: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Patrick Dell'Isola, Sergi Lopez and Florence Thomassin

Year: 1999

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: France


EIFF 2000

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