Mademoiselle Chambon (2010)
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Critic Reviews for Mademoiselle Chambon
A heartbreaking, ambiguous twist on 'Brief Encounter', railway station finale and all. Take hankies.
A charmingly direct film of simple contrasts about the difficulty of change.
One way to think of Mademoiselle Chambon (a chambon is a piece of a horse's halter) is as Brief Encounter as reimagined by Eric Rohmer.
Mademoiselle Chambon is moving in spots, but it doesn't stir you the way the best films about heartache do. You feel for these two star-crossed lovers, then forget about them the moment the movie is over.
Mademoiselle Chambon is about love in midlife, about two souls meeting, and how that can be the most beautiful thing in the world but also the most inconvenient.
Audience Reviews for Mademoiselle Chambon
A carpenter resists having an affair with his son's schoolteacher.
Mademoiselle Chambon features strong performances by Sandrine Kiberlain and Vincent Lindon as the two lead characters. Their characters are built on silence and subtle looks that make them fun to watch.
The film's plot is meandering, taking far too long to get from point A to point B with few complications in between. It's slow, but it's slow in a way that I've grown accustomed to in modern French cinema.
What is more, I'm not sure what the film is saying. Is it merely privileging a content marriage with a passionate affair? If so, such an aphorism has been said often and with greater effect.
Overall, Mademoiselle Chambon has strong performances, but the story is lacking in clarity and dimension.
"Mademoiselle Chambon," from writer/director Stephane Brize, is exquisitely directed and acted, but the story is so simple that it isn't very fulfilling.
Vincent Lindon plays a middle-aged man in a content but uninteresting marriage. He becomes friendly with his son's schoolteacher, and before he knows what has hit him, he is parking his car outside her apartment to watch her come and go. He's no stalker; he's falling in love. She's feeling exactly the same way.
The depiction of ordinary people falling in love is incredibly beautiful, among the best I've ever seen. Brize chooses to under-write it. The characters are not very verbal. Their feelings come out more in their eyes and body language, and the way they stumble and feel awkward around each other. Awkward and happy and hopeful. It's just delightful to watch. Brize apparently had a remarkable rapport with the actors during the shoot. The three of them are so completely on the same page, and they deliver the emotions of these characters with such compassion and clarity.
After the joy of watching them become smitten with each other, it's agony to watch them feel the pain of realizing the intractability of their situation. He's married with one child in school and another one on the way. His marriage might not be great, but it's not bad. And he's got huge responsibilities to his children. What a dilemma.
This was a lovely film that dealt with choices and how sometimes the very act of choosing causes pain no matter which choice one makes. The two lead actors, Vincent Lindon (Jean) and Sandrine Kiberlain (Veronique) gave us characters who conveyed their feelings with few words. There were silences that in another context might have been uncomfortable, but here felt completely natural because of the emotional presence of these two fine actors. The pace is slow, and does seem to drag at times, but the lovely scenery and the moral dilemma faced by these star-crossed lovers helps to assuage the languor one feels at times. Aure Atika plays Jean's wife (Anne-Marie), and her eyes tell us that she knows something is not quite right, but in true European fashion, rather than confront, she waits patiently for Jean to sort out his feelings. This is not a simple story. This seems like real people dealing with real moral choices and one feels that strong bonds are being tested. Those bonds that survive may thereby be stronger for the testing.
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