The sturdy elements of ’60s-era French romantic drama – crummy (yet charming) apartments, horrible breakup scenes and a relaxed sense of time – come together in this beautifully realised black-and-white throwback. You could call the film a ménage à trois, but it’s hardly that salacious. All three points of the triangle are equally compelling: just as we’re bonding with insecure Manon (Clotilde Courau) while her mum cuts her down to size over sandwiches in a brasserie, we see her fickle filmmaker husband, Pierre (Stanislas Merhar), flirting with an intern, Elisabeth (Lena Paugam).
Even as the trio heads into a complicated dance of multiple infidelities, 'In the Shadow of Women' never demonises any of them. (The title suggests a certain imbalance of power, yet Pierre acts boldly too.) Director Philippe Garrel has, over a 50-year career, devoted himself to paying close attention to the waning passions of love and politics alike; 'Regular Lovers' (2005) still feels like his masterpiece, but the way he enlists his actor son, Louis, to supply some droll offscreen narration suggests the filmmaker could never be boring.