Un Dimanche à la Campagne (A Sunday in the Country) (1984)
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French stage actor Louis Ducreux makes his film debut as a 76-year-old traditionalist painter, Monsieur Ladmiral, in this bittersweet portrait of a brooding artist. A widower, Ladmiral lives on an estate in the countryside near Paris with only his housekeeper, Mercedes (Monique Chaumette), and his paintings to keep him company. The action of the film takes place on a bright autumn Sunday in the early 1900s when Ladmiral's son, Gonzague (Michel Aumont), and Gonzague's wife, Marie-Therèse (Geneviève Mnich), come out from Paris with their three children to visit the old man. While making small talk with Gonzague, Ladmiral hints ever so subtly that his son has become too bourgeois, too conformist, too accepting of the status quo. Apparently, Ladmiral doesn't want his son to face what he is facing: self-recrimination for failing to take risks, failing to go beyond the bounds of tradition. Outdoors, the couple's two boys are only too eager to risk and dare. At one moment, they try to set fire to an insect and, failing, have the audacity to ask for a magnifying glass to do the job. Their father, Gonzague, disapproves, of course, but Ladmiral pronounces his blessing on the project, and he authorizes them to use his glass. No doubt, the old man hopes they survive childhood with their gumption and gall intact -- like Irène. Irène is Ladmiral's other child -- a vivacious, free-spirited beauty who speaks her mind and follows her whims. She is everything that Gonzague is not. Later, she drives her Papa to a dancehall. There, he tells her about his ruminations -- that maybe he should have experimented with impressionism. After examining his current project, he considers whether to make a decision, one that may change nothing -- or perhaps everything. … More
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