With Paris once again the location for a turbulent romance, this urban tale of fortysomething adulterers combines a love story from a woman's perspective with an astute dissection of a stagnant marriage. The result is a poignant, if maudlin, non-judgmental tale devoid of simple moralising.
Opening just short of Betty Blue in the early bonking stakes, Yves (Fortineau) catches the eye of Mado (Faysse) on the Paris Metro, follows her to a cafe, and then whisks her off to a hotel where they proceed to have urgent sex. Apres shag, the story gradually unfolds with their burgeoning relationship juxtaposed with Mado's re-evaluation of her floundering marriage to an antiques dealer. Yet as she becomes more deeply involved, Mado paradoxically becomes drawn to the stability of marriage, bringing tension to her new-found idyll.
In certain respects, this is French filmmaking by numbers with the mandatory affairs of the heart, little dramatic incident and pretentious pontificating ("Clocks have a strange presence"). Yet what saves it is director Dupeyron's refusal to etch a simple scenario, imbuing his characters with contradictions and fluctuating emotions. To this end, he is well served by his cast, with Faysse giving a winning, sensitive performance and Fortineau providing the requisite roguish Gallic charm.
Wisely, there is an absence of histrionics - sex scenes are delicately handled - and takes of considerable length are effective in building intimacy while a driving percussive score provides momentum. All in all then, a welcome entry into cinema's canon of illicit love.