French Riviera


Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze

French Riviera
"Production designer Olivier Radot and costume designer Pascaline Chavanne revel in the colors and textures of Seventies casino ambiance."

A dignified Catherine Deneuve as Renée Le Roux runs a casino in Nice that the criminal element has its eyes on. Guillaume Canet is the hieroglyphic lawyer Maurice Agnelet with his hands in many businesses. He is the man referenced in the French title, who "was loved too much." When Le Roux's daughter Agnès (Adèle Haenel) returns to the Riviera after her divorce to open a boutique selling books, African sculptures and Asian textiles, she falls for Maurice despite the fact that he has a family and a young son and many other women he juggles in his life already. Maurice convinces Agnès to vote against her mother during a crucial meeting deciding the fate of 350 casino employees, and things spin out of control from there.

The book by the real-life Renée Le Roux is the basis for André Téchiné's In The Name Of My Daughter (L’Homme Qu’on Aimait Trop) that he co-wrote with Jean-Charles Le Roux (brother to Agnès) and Cédric Anger whose Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart (La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai Le Coeur) is also in this year's Rendez-Vous and stars Canet.

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Adèle Haenel, winner of the Best Actress César for her performance in Thomas Cailley's Love At First Fight (Les Combattants) does a lot of swimming here, the only thing connecting the two roles. Haenel wears the clothes from the other end of the Seventies style spectrum and the batik shirts and saddlebag look as good on her as the jewel tones do on Deneuve.

Production designer Olivier Radot and costume designer Pascaline Chavanne revel in the colors and textures of Seventies casino ambiance. Every outfit Deneuve wears tops the previous one. The splendid brocades and preferably orange hues look terrific with her elegant white bob and the turquoise sea in the background.

Some of the juxtapositions ring more true than others. Maurice sits on a rock by the beach, reading André Gide in paperback while Agnès is taking a dip in the ocean. A family meal they attend at a villa includes bribing and traditional singing. A few unfortunate blunders and miscalculations interrupt the flow of otherwise well-composed scenes. Deneuve's Renée sings full on, a cappella an Italian pop song with her driver to let off steam, only she appears to have trouble reading the cue cards placed in the car. As compelling as the performances by Deneuve, Haenel and Canet are, there is a distance that keeps them apart.

Following a love scene between Maurice and Agnès, he says, "I don't care as much about you as you love me." She is naked on the bed, he looks down on her from above. There is gratuitous cruelty in the camera angle, especially when one considers a following sequence that much more effectively exposes the imbalance in their relationship. "Apologise and smile a real smile." Maurice has figured out how to play his power games with her and the exact torture that brings him results. Force someone to do something against their will and then make them do it as if they really mean it does the trick.

Téchiné seems to have not found a rhythm he is committed to. In an awkward flash forward, that is supposed to bring us up to date, the Halloween-quality make-up to age the actors is so distracting that the revelations get lost. In 2012, his Unforgivable (Impardonnables), on high-society drug dealings, the Venetian real estate market, the green sea and the blue sky, starred André Dussollier and Carole Bouquet and was screened at the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in New York.

In The Name Of My Daughter (L’Homme Qu’on Aimait Trop) will be screening at the 20th Anniversary of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in New York with Guillaume Canet scheduled to introduce it and participate in a Q&A.

Reviewed on: 04 Mar 2015
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Nice, 1976, Following the failure of her marriage, Agnès Le Roux returns from Africa to her mother Renée, owner of the Casino Le Palais de la Méditerranée and falls in love with Renée's confidant, Maurice Agnelet.

Director: André Téchiné

Writer: Cédric Anger, Jean-Charles Le Roux, André Téchiné

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Guillaume Canet, Adèle Haenel, Pierre Michiels

Year: 2014

Runtime: 116 minutes

Country: France

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