French writer-director Philippe Claudel had an arthouse hit in 2008 with ‘I’ve Loved You So Long’, a thoughtful thriller starring Kristin Scott Thomas. Here, Claudel reunites with his leading lady for a similarly family-centred mystery that keeps facts close to its chest. Scott Thomas is Lucie, a wealthy, self-contained Frenchwoman living in a modernist suburban home.
But she’s not the main player: centrestage is Lucie’s ill-at-ease husband Paul (Daniel Auteuil), a neurosurgeon whose already raw nerves are further frayed when a young student, Lou (Leïla Bekhti), enters his life claiming to be an old patient and brandishing unexplained affection. His wife wonders whether he’s having an affair; we wonder whether this girl even exists. Claudel’s style of filmmaking is handsome, intelligent and unrushed.
But ‘Before the Winter Chill’ proves underpowered, uninvolving and less bold than it sometimes suggests. As a leftfield portrait of a bourgeois Frenchman’s mid-life crisis, it’s hard not to make unflattering comparisons with Michael Haneke’s ‘Hidden’, especially with Auteuil upfront. And when an unexpected victim emerges, it’s hard not to feel discomfort at that person’s sidelining in favour of the tennis-playing, finance-discussing classes.
|Release date:||Friday May 9 2014|
Cast and crew
Kristin Scott Thomas