Cet Amour-la

on April 02, 2003 by Ed Scheid
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Marguerite Duras was a celebrated French author whose works included novels, plays and film scripts (including "Hiroshima Mon Amour"). She was also a filmmaker. "Cet Amour-la" depicts the unconventional relationship between Duras (Jeanne Moreau) and a young man who was less than half her age. After reading Duras, Yann Andrea (Aymeric Demarigny) became obsessed with the author, writing her daily for five years. In 1980, Duras invited him for a visit. At the time, Duras lived semi-reclusively in a Normandy beach town while writing a weekly newspaper column. In spite of the large age difference, Duras and Yann were drawn to each other and remained together for the rest of Duras' life. The unexpected fervor of the relationship revived Duras' creativity as she was assisted by Yann.

   Jeanne Moreau, a friend of Duras, appeared in two film adaptations of Duras' works and was directed by her in "Nathalie Granger" in 1972. One of cinema's most accomplished actresses, Moreau is in peak form. As Duras she gives a charismatic performance, showing the author's fiery temperament and voracious appetites. Duras is self-aware and egotistical but also fearful at her declining health. In a typically volatile mood, Duras throws Yann's suitcase out the window before the eventual reconciliation.

   Morea u's performance has a complexity the rest of the film lacks. The character of Yann is sketchily developed with little insight into his side of the relationship. Ironically, Yann Andrea collaborated with director Josee Dayan on the screenplay that was based on Andrea's memoir of his time with Duras.

   Dayan, who previously directed Moreau in large-scale period TV miniseries, gives her film an intimate focus on Duras and Yann. Their relationship is treated with some ambiguity and a frustrating lack of details, including its context in Duras' career. The film doesn't make evident that during her time with Yann, Duras created some of her most celebrated works, like "The Lover." Dayan's film gives little sense of what Moreau called a "scandalous passion", but does provide a dynamic showcase for a marvelous actress. Starring Jeanne Moreau, Aymeric Demarigny. Directed by Josee Dayan. Written by Josee Dayan, Yann Andrea, Maren Sell and Gilles Taurand. Produced by Alain Sarde. A New Yorker release. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 100 min

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