Sunday 12 May 2013

Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud [1995]

Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud, Sautet’s final film, provided a summation of the subjects and themes that he loved delving in, viz. deeply empathetic, layered and nuanced portrayals of the French bourgeoisie with all their desultory joys, deep regrets, emotional baggage, failed relationships, loneliness and flaws. It also formed a fine companion piece to his last film, A Heart in Winter. Nelly (Emmanuelle Beart), a beautiful young lady married to a guy who has lost interest in work, makes chance acquaintance with Arnaud (Michel Serrault), a wealthy and ageing former judge and businessman, who offers to help her out of her debts. He is in the process of writing his memoirs and offers her the job of his secretary which she gladly accepts, and thus begins a beautiful yet complex relationship between the two. He starts falling for her in his detached way, which becomes woefully obvious when she becomes involved with his editor (Jean-Hugues Anglade). But, as is slowly revealed, she too harbours feelings for him. The exquisitely understated finale, when he suddenly decides to go on a world tour with his former wife, which makes Nelly for the first time truly confront the deep connection that they have developed, was both melancholic and memorable. The elegance and maturity with which Sautet explored the lives of these two wonderfully etched characters, with a tone that was contemplative yet matter-of-fact, and filled with subtle hints, observations and allusions, was proof of his grasp of this mostly derided and misunderstood class. Both Beart and Serrault gave startlingly naturalistic performances, while Anglade too was noteworthy in his brief but important role.

Director: Claude Sautet
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Romantic Drama
Language: French
Country: France

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