A very different brother and sister overcome their constant bickering and decide to put their mother in a retirement home. Meanwhile the brother's daughter and adopted brother have a ménage a trois with their father's assistant from work.
Middle-aged, middle class and miserable, Emile (Deneuve) and her brother Antoine (Auteuil) are locked into the sort of sibling love-hate relationship on which psychologists' fortunes are founded. She's cold. He's neurotic. She's not talking to him. He's never loved anyone but her. She's on the point of leaving her husband. He lives in solitary self-loathing. And now their querulous and domineering mother (Marthe Villalonga) is slowly succumbing to a depressing combination of strokes and senile dementia.
Meanwhile, Emile's teenage daughter and her adopted brother Lucien are having a triangular sort of thing with Emile's sexy young clerk Khadija. Antoine and Emile decide to put mum in a home, she hates them for it, and they hate each other, and so Emile decides to leave her husband, and Khadija won't sleep with Lucien, and Antoine throws himself off his balcony but only manages to break his ankle, and basically this is the sort of dour, drawn-out stuff that gives arthouse movies a bad name.
Despite the occasional flicker of black humour, it's a depressing little tale which, with its lugubrious pace and low-key relationships, feels more like a long, self-indulgent television play. The performances, however, are sensitive and detailed, the camerawork discreet, and the story simply told. Deneuve is uncharacteristically animated, and Auteuil creates a fairly convincing portrait of an emotionally immature loner but two hours is simply too long to spend in the company of these gloomy Gauls.
There are glimmers of hope that appear in this long-drawn out French drama but they are much too few and far between. Instead Ma Saison Prefere simply goes on longer than it should and even a great performance from Deneuve cannot save it.