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1 of 1 Powerful performances
Powerful performances

Directed by François Ozon, starring Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Stéphane Freiss.

It's over for Marion and Gilles (Bruni-Tedeschi and Freiss). There's no property to sell; the furniture has been divided; the visitation arrangements for their toddler son have been agreed...now it's just a matter of signing the divorce papers. But what brought them to this point? Why are they trapped between worn-out boredom and - given that they're both still wearing their wedding rings - a reluctance to let go? Could things ever have been any different?

Rewinding a finished marriage in five episodes, Ozon's ('Swimming Pool', 'Under the Sand') latest is - ironically fitting given its subject matter - fascinating and disappointing at the same time. Marion and Gilles' story goes from a post-divorce tryst back to an awkward dinner party; the birth of their son; their warning sign wedding and the happy start/ending of how they first met. With powerful performances from Bruni-Tedeschi and Freiss, it feels like you're watching five films at once - always knowing that any happiness will be short lived and any disappointment just a portent for what's to come.

Ozon's film offers no answers, only clues but he fails to make the full use of the plot structure with two big mistakes. Firstly, this is a film that should force you to shift your allegiances from episode to episode but, by making one character so odious from the outset, you're always on the side of the other. And while he excellently shows that some relationships are not based on love but chance, there is one unexpected moment in the penultimate episode that doesn't ring true for the character involved in it. When a film wants to deal in real-life but leaves you with the feeling of 'that just wouldn't happen', momentum is difficult to recover.

But despite those faults, this cautionary tale is worth seeing - even if won't generate as many arguments as it should.

Harry Guerin

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