François Ozon resorted to an interesting use of reverse chronology – a device that has been popularly used in films like Nolan’s Memento and Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter – in his deconstruction of a marital breakdown. Instead of providing a linear account of the marriage, he chronicled that through 5 discrete chapters – with each chapter capturing a key event lasting within the space of a single day – that marked the genesis, strains and eventual dissolution of the relationship between Marion (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stéphane Freiss), albeit in reverse order. It was, therefore, ironic in the way mood in the narrative – from hostile and toxic to bleak and edgy to lively and hopeful – ran opposite to the way their relationship actually progressed, with subsequent framed 5 key moments in their relationship – their divorce proceeding and a self-destructive post-divorce liaison in a hotel room that made this an intensely disturbing opening gambit; a dinner party simmering with tensions on the question of fidelity; the birth of their only child where Gilles is internally struggling to accept this development; their buoyant marriage ceremony, and then, unbeknownst to Gilles, Marion’s casual fling on their wedding night; and the tentative beginning of their affair which also, ironically, coincided with petering away of Gilles’ previous relationship. The elaborate fade-outs after each chapter were accompanied by lilting love songs that had love and heartbreak written all over them, while extreme close-up were often used throughout to portray how their facial expressions and body languages, and the underlying emotions they contain, transitioned over time. Both Tedeschi and Freiss gave noteworthy turns, as Ozon employed a mix of revelations and red herrings to portray their arc.
Director: Francois Ozon
Genre: Drama/Marriage Drama/Romantic Drama