At 85 years of age, acclaimed French film director Alain Resnais' long career has included documentary (the 1955 Holocaust film 'Night and Fog)', one of the first films of the French Nouvelle Vague (1959's 'Hiroshima, Mon Amour'), and musicals ('On Connaît la Chanson' from 1997). His latest film, 'Private Fears in Public Places' is a Jean-Michel Ribes adaptation of a 2004 play by popular British playwright Alan Ayckbourn.

Set in a snow-coated Paris, this film is about a collection of interconnected but alienated people, each trapped in their own solitary, lonely world. It opens with Nicole (Morante) being shown an apartment for rent by estate agent Thierry (Dussollier). She is looking for a place large enough for herself and her unemployed ex-army fiancé Dan (Wilson) but having no success. Thierry returns to the office that he shares with the religious Charlotte (Azéma), who lends him a video of her favourite programme. When he goes home to the house where he lives with his younger sister Gaelle (Carré), he finds more on the video than he had bargained for.

Gaelle herself is on a secret mission through the lonely hearts columns, hopefully going off to a café each night to meet the men that she's corresponded with - but who never turn up. Charlotte also spends her nights out, looking after the contrary father of Lionel (Arditi), a barman in a hotel restaurant where the out-of-work Dan hangs out.

Too stagy to fully engage an audience, 'Private Fears in Public Places' is shot on sets that often look more suitable for the theatre than film. With approximately 50 short scenes, divided by shots of the constantly falling snow, it is difficult to get involved with the characters but this melancholic movie is redeemed by wonderful performances from the cast. A bleak meditation on loneliness and separation.

Caroline Hennessy