The annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema co-sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and uniFrance films again showed a variety of contemporary French-language films at 3 locations in New York City. After some of the screenings, directors and actors gave insights into their films.
French icon Catherine Deneuve appeared in 3 selections. Denueve continues to make intriguing career choices, often to notable effect. Deneuve appeared in the opening film “3 Hearts” (“3 Coeurs”), in a supporting role, portraying the mother of real life daughter Chiara Mastroianni, as she has done in films such as “My Favorite Season” (1993) and “Beloved” (2011).
The film is directed and co-written by Benoit Jacquot, known for central female character in previous efforts like “Farewell My Queen” (2012). This film focuses on a conflicted male character. Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde, “Man Bites Dog”), is a tax inspector who misses his train to Paris, remaining in a small French town. He meets Sylvie (Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Nymphomaniac”). They have an immediate connection and spend the night together. They agree to meet in Paris.
Marc is prevented from making the meeting and is unable to contact Sylvie who returns to her unfulfilled life, moving to the US with her husband. Back in the town, Marc gives professional help to Sophie (Mastroianni) who has taken over her mother’s antique shop. Their friendly relationship deepens and they become engaged to marry. Marc is unaware that Sophie is the sister of Sylvie. He begins to wonder after he sees Sylvie’s unique lighter and spots her face in family photos. Sylvie returns to France for the wedding.
Deneuve is an elegant presence and skillfully shows her character’s growing awareness and concern of some connection between Marc and his sister-in-law. Will the memorable night between Sylvie and Marc disrupt the close relationship between the 2 sisters and threaten the marriage between Marc and Sophie? Ominous music builds up the tension.
Benoit Jacquot said that while writing the screenplay, he had in mind romantic film classics like “Back Street”, “Love Affair” and “An Affair to Remember,” as well as Douglas Sirk’s movies. While the film has a contemporary setting, the set up of the missed meeting seems to belong to an earlier era, as Sylvie and Marc could have exchanged phone numbers or emails.
A talented cast shows the emotional complications a man in love with 2 sisters, maintaining interest through some contrived and melodramatic events. Mastroianni is particularly effective.
Future posts include the latest films of Catherine Deneuve, Nathalie Baye, Guillaume Canet, Melanie Laurent (as director), Andre Techine, Cedric Kahn, and Christophe Honore.