Legendary director Resnais delivers less-than-heartfelt adaptation of Ayckbourn play

Private Fears in Public Places

on April 13, 2007 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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A group of lonely Parisians, linked in ways they do not imagine, try to connect emotionally during a harsh, blustery winter. Once again dipping into the prolific well of English playwright Alan Ayckbourn, legendary French filmmaker Alain Resnais ( Last Year at Marienbad ) shows that, in his mid-80s, he is still at the peak of his cinematic powers. The film, alas, unlike Smoking/No Smoking, Resnais's previous Ayckbourn adaptation, is not as impressive an achievement. It may have to do with Resnais' deliberately artificial, theatrical take on the material—as the snowflakes fall, the scenes fade one to the next—or the absurd, overdone characters, such as Sabine Azema's religious, kinky secretary, who is simply unbelievable, but Private Fears in Public Places, which won Resnais the Best Director Award at the Venice Film Festival, leaves less impression than it might have. It's well acted by Resnais's usual troop of performers, but this is decidedly one of the master's lesser works. Distributor: IFC First Take
Cast: Sabine Azema, Isabelle Carre, Laura Morante, Pierre Arditi, Andre Dussollier and Lambert Wilson
Director: Alain Resnais
Screenwriter/Producer: Jean-Michel Ribes
Genre: Drama; French-language, subtitled
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 127 min.
Release date: April 13, 2007 NY/LA
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