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 realized 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 mom 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 villainizes 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.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
|Release date:||Friday January 15 2016|