Changing Times

on July 14, 2006 by Ed Scheid
Catherine Deneuve described her new film as asking "if your first love story can be your last love story" when she introduced "Changing Times" at the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series in New York City. In "Changing Times," Deneuve is reunited with Gerard Depardieu, her co-star in multiple films (most notably Truffaut's "The Last Metro"). The two icons remain an extraordinary combination. This film is directed with deep emotional sensitivity by Andre Techine, who co-wrote the screenplay and has worked previously with both of his leads.

Antoine (Depardieu) arrives in Tangiers to oversee a construction project. He has traced his old love Cecile (Deneuve), who now lives in Tangiers. Over 30 years ago, Cecile had broken off her relationship with Antoine because she was afraid of his intensity. Cecile has a safe but compromised marriage with Nathan (Gilbert Melki, "Cote d'Azur"), a younger doctor. She seems most enthusiastic about her musical program on the radio.

Cecile and Nathan's son Sami (Malik Zidi) has his own complicated relationships. He arrives from Paris with his platonic companion Nadia (Lubna Azabal, "Paradise Now") and her young son. While devoted to them, Nathan remains attracted to his old friend Bilal (Nadem Rachati), who has remained in Tangiers. With subtlety, the screenplay develops a variety of characters confronted by important decisions.

Techine's affinity with his two leads has given his film two memorable characterizations that add some intriguing twists to the actors' established images. Depardieu's imposing physical presence is combined with an emotional fragility as Antoine remains afraid of how his former love will respond. Antoine sends Cecile a bouquet each day -- without a card. After meeting Antoine, Deneuve's Cecile hides her increasingly conflicted feelings beneath a cool exterior. Deneuve and Depardieu's screen chemistry gives an acute tension to their scenes together, making the outcome of Cecile and Antoine's reunion extremely moving. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Gilbert Melki, Lubna Azabal and Malik Zidi. Directed by Andre Techine. Written by Andre Techine, Laurent Guyot and Pascal Bonitzer. Produced by Paulo Branco. A Koch Lorber release. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 100 min

Tags: Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Gilbert Melki, Lubna Azabal, Malik Zidi, Andre Techine, Laurent Guyout, Pascal Bonitzer, Paulo Branco, Koch Lorber, Drama, French, Paris, emotional, chemistry, tension, love

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