On A Magical Night


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Chambre 212
"Deliciously and deliberately theatrical" | Photo: © Jean Louis Fernandez

French director Christophe Honoré has a way with looking at the trials and tribulations of love and relationships. In Love Songs (Les Chansons D’Amour) be dealt with the younger generation. Here, he moves on to middle age and the reckonings that infiltrate any couple over the years.

Deliciously and deliberately theatrical, he serves up a French farce with a chanson splattered soundtrack by the likes of Charles Aznavour. It takes place virtually in two or three rooms - an apartment and a hotel opposite as well as the snow-covered street in between.

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Chiara Mastroianni, as Maria, makes the most of a gift of a role as the college lecturer wife who admits to her husband Richard (a bewildered Benjamin Biolay) her indiscretions with a legion of young hunky students whereas he claims to have remained chastely faithful over the years. Honoré plays on this neat role reversal of conventional wisdom.

Maria, who moves out of the apartment to the hotel to give herself a bit of space, is quite able to cope with her frantic infidelities whereas Richard is so taken aback that he contemplates the end of the marriage.

Each of the characters is visited by ghosts from their past with Maria conversing with her dead mother while Richard finds, in Vincent Lacoste, a 25-year-old version of his youthful self - at a time when they were both hopelessly in love.

It’s irrepressibly bright and bubbly (a room crammed with Maria’s suitors is quite a moment) whereas there is perhaps for homegrown audiences an added frisson in the fact that Mastroianni and Biolay were involved romantically in real life.

OK, it’s all as light as a soufflé but Honoré deals with some serious issues about the dark waters of long-term relationships which make the film as affecting as it is amusing.

Reviewed on: 22 May 2019
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After 20 years of marriage, Maria decides to leave her husband. She moves into room 212 at the hotel across the street, with a bird’s-eye view of her apartment, her husband and the life she shared with him.
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Director: Christophe Honoré

Writer: Christophe Honoré

Starring: Carole Bouquet, Chiara Mastroianni, Camille Cottin, Vincent Lacoste, Benjamin Biolay

Year: 2019

Runtime: 86 minutes

Country: France

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