Friday, December 18, 2015

If You Don't, I Will

We don't get enough foreign pictures here in Washington. Actually, we don't get a lot of good American pics until weeks pass after their opening in New York and Los Angeles. Of course, today, we and every hamlet larger than a population of 50 has the new Star Wars picture, which I will go see soon, especially because it's playing at our local house, the Uptown, which has what you don't run into very often now: one large curved screen and a large palatial auditorium.

But the Avalon, which was saved by community action and is run by a community board, is out on Connecticut Avenue just before the Maryland line, and on Wednesday nights, it shows foreign films, usually French, Czech, or Israeli. I often give French pics a chance because if nothing else, their style is appealing. This week, they had, for only the one Wednesday night showing, a French film released earlier this year, If You Don't, I Will

I'd never seen the stars, Emanuelle Devos and Mathieu Amalric, before; nor had I viewed any of the previous work of Sophie Fillieres. The picture isn't great but it has its attractions. It was reviewed, by the way, in New York in December 2014 and Variety caught it earlier at the Berlin Film Festival. It's about a married couple who are at odds with each other for not entirely clear reasons except that they seem to push all the wrong buttons after getting to their 40s, being empty-nesters since her son has recently moved out and lives with his pleasant girl friend.

Their flare-ups at typical parties or when running for a bus don't seem that outlandish. The best gag comes when they put some Champagne in the "super frost" part of the freezer and it cracks up in no time. The wife, Pomme (I recall how Diane Kurys used that name for the heroine in her charming picture, One Sings, the Other Doesn't.), suspects that husband Pierre is having an affair with a younger weather broadcaster. But this obvious provocation falls apart when the younger woman appears to become as fed up with him as his wife.

The climax of the picture comes when the two go for a hike in a large forest park near Lyons, where the picture is set (it looked just like Paris to me). Pomme decides she doesn't want to go home and goes off on her own into the woods. She camps out and hikes for several days, with a few adventures but nothing very major. She stops in a small town where there's a chamber music festival and it is delightful when she joins all the participants in the fest are at a huge dining table as they identify themselves by the instrument each plays. 

She returns to the forest and Pierre is finally urged by her son to pursue her, which he seems to do in a half-hearted way. When she eventually returns and they are back together, the ending leaves it unclear as to what will happen next. Just like life.

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