Critics Consensus

The premise isn't anything new, but director Alain Resnais' attention to detail and smooth camerawork gives this movie a delicate edge.



Total Count: 68


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,921
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Movie Info

Sophie is Thierry's sister and roommate; she spends most of her time trying to find a boyfriend. Thierry is a real estate agent who shows Nicole several apartments. Nicole is looking for a three-bedroom to share with her fiance, Dan, but Dan has little interest in helping her, in fact, his only concern lately is getting drunk and his only acquaintance is the bartender, Lionel. Lionel listens to other people's problems, while his own are enormous. He cares for his sick and hateful father, and when he goes to work at night, Charlotte, a caregiver he has hired, takes over. Charlotte has a few tricks up her sleeve to keep Lionel's cantankerous father in check. The six collide and influence each other's lives in significant ways as they navigate the cold winter months in Paris.


Sabine Azéma
as Charlotte
Françoise Gillard
as Speakerine TV
Anne Kessler
as Présentatrice émission TV
Roger Mollien
as Soldat poète émission TV
Michel Vuillermoz
as Architecte émission TV
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Critic Reviews for Coeurs

All Critics (68) | Top Critics (29)

Audience Reviews for Coeurs

  • Jul 21, 2008
    I felt unattached from what should have been a touching and moving drama theatrical piece. Was the title intended to be Curse?
    Nicolas K Super Reviewer
  • Apr 03, 2008
    Uneven but beautifully crafted study of the modern malaise of trying to connect. Not all the scenarios ring true but they are skillfully entwined with an affecting score.
    Gordon A Super Reviewer
  • Oct 11, 2007
    When you think of French cinema, you think of Truffaut's <i>The 400 Blows</i>, Godard's <i>Breathless</i>, Renoir's <i>The Rules of the Game</i> or <i>The Grand Illusion</i> and of course... Resnais' <i>Hiroshima mon amour</i>. Hard to believe, but that was almost half-century ago. Therefore, the opportunity to see a new Alain Resnais film, now 85 years old, is something to be celebrated by anyone who truly loves cinema, and <i>Private Fears in Public Places</i> is certainly something worth making the effort to see, although again, it may struggle to find an audience appreciative of its attractions and qualities. <a href="¤t=publicfears_6-1.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a> Resnais is a singular filmmaker who, judging by the dreamy interiority of many of his films (including 1961's Oscar-nominee for best original screenplay, <i>Last Year at Marienbad</i>), may feel most at home by himself living in a rich fantasy world. So, the choice of material for his latest film - a sex farce by the wildly popular British playwright Alan Ayckbourn - seems a quite strange one. Nonetheless, Resnais is nothing if not a Frenchman in love with love, and the title he adopted for Ayckbourn's play, <i>Coeurs</i>, means "hearts". In Resnais' world, however, the hearts of his players aren't madly jumping from bed to balcony, but rather are badly bruised and bared in a melancholic atmosphere. His Paris is no romantic City of Lights, but a chilly, modern expanse of elegant spaces in which people struggle to connect with each other. The film takes up the interlocking stories of six people: an engaged couple, the real estate agent who's trying to find them a new apartment, the agent's sister and flat-mate, a religious woman who works with the agent, and a bartender. The couple, Nicole (Laura Morante) and Dan (Lambert Wilson) are unhappy. Dan was fired from the military and has been laying around their flat in resentment, broken only by his trips to a nearby hotel bar to get drunk and chat with Lionel (Pierre Arditi), who feeds him the drinks and trivial, noncommittal conversation in which bartenders specialize. Nicole visits inadequate apartment after inadequate apartment with Thierry, the agent (André Dussollier), pointing out how large rooms have been divided in half into smaller rooms with obvious flaws. After another fruitless outing with Nicole, Thierry returns to his office, where his colleague Charlotte (Sabine Azéma, in the film's most memorable performance) cheers him up in her way by handing him a videotape of her favorite television program, a religious talk show called "The Song that Changed My Life". Thierry, all smiles, accepts the tape, but then confides to his sister Gaëlle (Isabelle Carré) that he made the mistake of faking interest in the show and now feels obliged to watch it. Which he does when Gaëlle goes out for the evening with her friends. However, Gaëlle is headed for a long night waiting in vain for a blind date she set up through the classifieds to show up at a coffee house. Meanwhile, Thierry goes from bored to shocked when he discovers that the tape has been recorded over a home-made semi-pornographic film starring an actress who looks surprisingly familiar. He happily accepts Charlotte's offer of more video tapes. In the meantime, Charlotte has taken a second job as the evening caretaker for Lionel's invalid, abusive father while he is at work. Lionel lives alone, having lost his partner and his mother. He feels obliged to care for the father who abandoned him and his mother when he was a boy, but the job isn't easy. Charlotte soon ends up with soup all over her, broken dishes at her feet, and a string of filthy insults assaulting her from the room where the unseen - except for his feet - father lies in bed. Now that we have the set-ups, the film rolls out the elements that would have doors opening and slamming in any respectable farce. Nicole throws Dan out, and he ends up with Gaëlle on a blind date. Thierry, after viewing a second tape with an even sexier episode included, decides to make his move. And Charlotte... well, she makes sure the old man keeps still on her last night of caring for him in a bizarrely hilarious way. <i>Private Fears in Public Places</i> maintains the theatrical atmosphere of its source material. Superficially, it resembles a pilot for a never-to-be-made television series - and indeed, Resnais confessed in a French magazine to being obsessed recently with US TV drama series. But what sounds like rather pedestrian material of popular television and stage drama becomes something else entirely in the hands of a director like Alain Resnais. Although he strips most of the farcical elements, the film is also an homage to the classic French farces of Molière. The question - if "Private Fears in Public Places" (the play) could work as a film - was a legitimate one, and it was asked. Resnais and his cast answered it, raising the material into the realm of pure cinema. The six characters are intertwined, trapped in claustrophobic and intentionally artificial settings. Resnais often shoots straight down into the roofless apartments Nicole visits with Thierry, emphasizing how artificial, yet gloriously coloured the film's set is and the rat-like maze in which the characters are caught. Charlotte is seen to be a religious hypocrite and liar, very much in keeping with sentiments common in the works of Molière, but sympathetically human nonetheless. Resnais provides his characters with open doors in an acknowledgment of their humanity. The ensemble - composed mostly of Resnais veterans - work is magnificent, movingly portraying their characters' vain yet hopeful attempts to find love in the face of urban alienation. Resnais brings each of the situations together with fluid ease, giving each of the actors the opportunity to demonstrate their range in the different lives they lead and the different ways the characters interact with each other. Sabine Azéma, as I mentioned, perhaps gives the most memorable performance, for her character's prude/deviant duality, but the entire cast is excellent. Over it all, Resnais covers his film with pure, soft snow - actual snow on the ground and falling on his characters as they move through the streets of Paris or falling inside Lionel's kitchen and across his and Charlotte's intertwined arms as Lionel speaks intimately about his family - of course, this last snowfall (one of the film's most beautiful scenes) is metaphorical, signaling, perhaps, a moment of grace among so much unhappiness and loneliness. Watching this film is like opening a very special gift from a person who has found exactly the right thing to give you. What that gift might be is for you to discover. That is if you want to. I advise you to.
    Pedro P Super Reviewer
  • Sep 17, 2007
    Middle-aged cast sorts out relationship problems so convincing, it's a bore.
    William G Super Reviewer

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