Reviewed by: Nicholas Dawson

Laurent Bouhnik's follow-up to Select Hotel is a bleak and frank examination of a 35-year old dressmaker, Madeleine, who is desperate to love and to be loved. The film charts her social interactions with men and women, using a peculiarly loose time structure. Each encounter is awkward and ultimately unfulfilling. Madeleine's story radiates unhappiness and unease for an unsettling 85 minutes.

This is a self-consciously arty film. The problem is, art like this doesn't seem to come off very well in the cinematic medium. Gille Henry's photography is strikingly abstract and endlessly inventive. Yet the film feels like a procession of coldly beautiful but unconnected art photographs.

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We, like Madeleine, feel detached from her life and her world. The camera coldly shows her obsessive self pity, but only in two set pieces - Madeleine hoovering and at the judo club - does Bouhnik's use of pathos allow us to sympathetically identify with her. Such a venture, with Henry's photography and the introverted script, makes for good art, but not great cinema.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A thirtysomething woman's search for love.

Director: Laurent Bouhnik

Writer: Laurent Bouhnik

Starring: Véra Briole, Manuel Blanc, Anouk Aimée, Jean-Michel Fête, Jean-François Gallotte, Aurélia Petit, Samuel Jouy, Serge Blumental

Year: 1999

Runtime: 112 minutes

Country: France


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