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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

UN COEUR EN HIVER (1992)

Claude Sautet‘s penultimate work is a beautifully observed film about a love triangle involving business partners in the high-end violin trade (Daniel Auteuil, André Dussoilier) and a violinist (Emmanuel Béart) who is engaged to one, but unexpectedly attracted to the other. The story’s crisis comes when the ‘other’ man (Auteuil) declines to take advantage of the situation, a response that should tilt the story toward comedy. But Sautet is drawn to the quiet desperation behind his inaction, so instead of an explosion, we advance to a sadder-but-wiser bitter-sweet landing. The film holds an extra layer of interest & delight since it’s not only set in the world of classical music, but uses Ravel’s chamber music (trio & violin sonata) not as a tony backdrop, but as the dramatic sinew to ground the story. (Béart’s violinist may have the lead in the film, but the star performer on the soundtrack is the extraordinary pianist.) It may sound flip, but this is undoubtedly the best film ever made about a luthier.

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