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Mademoiselle Chambon 2009

Recommended

Distributed by Kino Lorber Edu, 333 West 39 St, Suite 503, New York, NY 10018; 212-629-6880
Produced by Milena Poylo and Gilles Sacuto
Directed by Stephane Brize
DVD, color, 88 min.



High School - General Adult
Romance, Infidelity

Date Entered: 08/08/2011

Reviewed by Barbara J. Walter, Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO

Freely adapted from the 1996 novel by Eric Holder, Mademoiselle Chambon rewards the patient viewer with a gently-unfolding, riveting tale of amour fou between a middle-aged man and his son’s schoolteacher.

Jean (Vincent Lindon), happily married to Anne-Marie (Aure Atika), lives a simple, grounded life as a house builder in a provincial French village. It is obvious that he cherishes his family: we observe him and Anne-Marie struggling to help their son Jeremy (Arthur Le Houerou) with his homework, Jean’s gentle ministrations to his aging father (Jean-Marc Thibault).

Picking up Jeremy from school one day, Jean meets Veronique (Sandrine Kiberlain), his son’s teacher—the mademoiselle of the title. City-bred and educated, trained as a classical violinist but employed as a teacher, she has chosen a peripatetic life, moving each year to a new teaching position. A message on her phone machine suggests that for Veronique, family is distant in more than one sense. Single, restless, she is seeking to put down roots.

Slowly and sensitively, with an abundance of long takes and little dialog, director Stephane Brize teases out the ordinary days—and the many small decisions-- of two people increasingly attracted to one another who are fighting hard not to fall. Brize took a risk in casting Lindon and Kiberlain in the leading roles, who were married but estranged at the time the film was shot. Yet the tension and complexity in their relationship bring added depth to their performance.

Photographed in Cinemascope, superbly edited, and with a delightful soundtrack full of romantic classical music, Mademoiselle Chambon is recommended for public and academic libraries. For a mature audience, due to obscenity and a brief sexual encounter.

Awards

  • Cesar Award for Best Adapted Screenplay