Noce Blanche Review

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The title translates as 'white wedding' or unconsummated love affair and displays the consuming passion of a 50-year-old philosophy teacher and his 17-year-old student.


The French are terribly keen on and very good at making films about intensely passionate relationships. The Older Man, Younger Woman is a favoured and familiar formula that has always stood them in good stead and Noce Blanche (literal translation "White Wedding", meaning unconsummated love affair) is about the consuming passion of a 50-year-old philosophy teacher and his 17-year-old student.

Francois Hainault, the teacher, is curious to find out about Mathilde, a student who is about to be shunted from school for repeated absenteeism. Mathilde, who has nothing to lose as her life is already filled with a suicidal mother, two drug-dealing brothers and a psychiatrist father who went Buddhist in the sixties, encourages his concern until she has him emotionally hostage.

Although frightened by the consequences, Francois knows that when he tries to withdraw, she will tighten the screws and that he will go with it because he's well and truly hooked. He watches, with confused eyes, as his life falls into disillusion and chaos, still feeling deeper and unexplored longing for this extraordinary girl, who ultimately will become the victim.

Perfectly cast with the beautiful, provocatively innocent nymphette Vanessa Paradis, one of France's top rock singers, and the attractively going-to-seed Bruno (Tenue De Soiree) Cremer with his hooded eyes and hawkish nose, director Brisseau has been clever to use a small-budget script set against the truths of philosophy without being dogged by polemic or moving into cutesy academia.

Even though it might be the same old story, Noce Blanche manages to come through as both fresh and thoughtful. And wonderfully French!