Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sabine Azéma, Lambert Wilson, André Dussollier, Pierre Arditi, Laura Morante, Isabelle Carré
Written by: Jean-Michel Ribes, based on a play by Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by: Alain Resnais
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 120
Date: 09/02/2006

Private Fears in Public Places (2007)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Snowing Glances

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

They don't call him a "master" for nothing. Alain Resnais, currently 84, and the author of such certified masterpieces as Night and Fog, Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad, returns with yet another amazing film. This one is a fairly low-key character study of three men and three women, each looking for love in all the wrong places: a discharged, drunken military vet (Lambert Wilson), his beautiful, patient fiancée (Laura Morante), a real-estate agent (Andre Dussollier), his religious, yet mysterious secretary (Sabine Azema), a bartender (Pierre Arditi) with an aged, senile father and a pretty woman (Isabelle Carre) who answers romance ads. Based on a play by Alan Ayckbourn, the film deftly weaves the six lives together, and each crosses paths with at least two of the others. For his part, Resnais cooks up a theme of physical separation to go with the emotional. Each set is designed with some kind of partition dividing and isolating the characters. And yet the mood remains somehow whimsical and never oppressive. Even if these characters fail to find love, many have at least loved and lost, shining briefly like the snow that constantly, delicately falls throughout the story. (The film opened in France as Coeurs, but the American distributor changed the title back to that of the play.)

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