One night in a small French town, a tax accountant named Marc has missed the last train to Paris and chances upon a woman in a hotel bar. They start talking, rather, he runs after her, and we're told they spend the night wandering around in perfect harmony. No names or numbers or other mundane details are exchanged, although they do promise to meet the next week at a certain location in Paris.
This seems to be the only time the two characters actually do something, as in, take a decision. From here on out, life just takes over. The meeting at the Jardin de Toulieres (jaw-droppingly beautiful, what is it with Paris and its gardens) never takes place. Marc is prone to panic attacks, you see. Or was it an actual heart attack? Anyway, the two would-be lovers are thus separated. Thereafter, Marc somehow meets another woman, falls in love, marries. But ah! this new woman, Sophie, unbeknownst to all, is actually the sister of the old one, Sylvie. Ergo, path to destruction has been charted.
Everyone smokes like a furnace. Sylvie, with all her shrugging and mumbling, displays no real evidence that she is actually potty about the accountant. While he's busy marrying her sibling, she's returned to her own ill-suited boyfriend and pushed off to Minneapolis, poor dear, to live and work in the U.S. I wonder if she had any green card issues, that would've made her come running back to the motherland, what? (I cannot resist cheap shots at the expense of fictional characters in order to relieve my own frustration). The houses and gardens and streets are just tres jolie; even the women have this certain nonchalant, translucent-shirted, unmade up style that is virtually non-existent in Hollywood, and this is all very refreshing to the jaded eye.
However, the music score jars. It almost sounds like the track to a kind of urban "Jaws" in its menacing tone, meant to be a foreshadowing but ending up as a hammering. And there's an inexplicable voice-over halfway through, which adds nothing to the narrative. Still, despite all this, you do feel caught up with the complications. There are no easy answers, you see, there never are. And in this the script is non-judgmental, at least: a long-ago spark can still burn somewhere in the heart. The element of 'choice' gets away from us sometimes, and we do at least empathize a little even while being exasperated.
Not overly taxing in its telling, the film is fine for a hot Friday afternoon loll on the couch with a glass of cold, lime-splashed Coke. Perhaps if I'd smoked, I would have enjoyed it more?
Overall rating: 5/10
Director: Jacquot Benoit