Director: Catherine Corsini | 135 minutes | drama, biography | Actors: Virginie Efira, Niels Schneider, Jehnny Beth, Estelle Lescure, Coralie Russier, Iliana Zabeth, Catherine Morlot, Ambre Hasaj, Sasha Alessandri-Torrès Garcia, Pierre Salvadori, Gaël Kamilindi, Simon Bakhouche
A romantic film about class differences in love, in the 1950s. Haven’t we seen this before? Mais oui, bien sûr. In the glowingly staged ‘Un amour impossible’, typist Rachel (the excellent Virginie Efira) enters into an affair with the rich Philippe (Niels Schneider), a charming braggart who only expresses his love when asked. Or in bed, but that’s easy.
The viewer has all the clichés about romantic love up for grabs – including voiceover and lovers reading their letters out loud, but you believe in Rachel’s love for Philippe, and watch her, think even more than see her. Credibility is always the key, because in love there are not so many other possibilities than loving, pretending and the corresponding crunching heart.
There is something between the two, an age difference anyway. The fact that Rachel is older (Imdb speaks of ten years between the actors) eliminates the class difference, which is the original thing about this film. Rachel has a strong character, is a pure soul and parent, Philippe has the coolness of eternal youth and wealth. In both attitudes there is both chemistry and disaster.
Disaster that comes because love seldom comes without disaster. Unfortunately, little news, dear readers. After an hour this film has already reached its dramatic climax. Well done it is, with a car trip on a narrow coastal road, and a hood that suddenly smashes in front of the windows, and a car that brakes just before the abyss, and young lovers who then make love. For a moment it is beautiful, very beautiful.
The viewer’s sympathy is with Rachel, who becomes the mother of a daughter, who is not recognized because she is too little for Philippe’s family, and yet wants her daughter to know her father. Philippe’s motives are rubbed in, but Rachel fiercely fends off. Lots of black and white, but credibility remains key. And love from the makers for the main character. We already knew that ‘L’amour’ is ‘impossible’. How you deal with it makes the difference.