Responsibility versus happiness as a young Protestant cleric in Barbazac in 1900 divorces his severe wife and allows his life to take a new path.
Things are changing in the heritage movie business, as a new breed of director is restoring the life to the sub-genre. Like Terence Davies' The House of Mirth, this compression of Jacques Chardonne's three-volume novel retains the spirit of the text while employing a modern visual idiom.
Assayas is perhaps guilty of dwelling on some episodes while whizzing through others, but there's plenty to cover between Berling's decision to abandon the church and wife (Huppert) and marry Beart.
Exploring France's shifting moral, social and economic values from 1900 to the mid-1930s, this adaptation of Chardonne's trilogy is a testament to the power of love. The performances are studied, the direction occasionally cautious. But it's definitely a step in the right direction.
An elegant paean to the enduring power of love that echoes the style of Berolucci and Visconti.