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(Review originally written at 8 July 2010)

Never knew that Max Ophüls directed so many French movies through his career. I have only seen some of his English movies so far but as it appears he actually worked in lots of countries, making movies there in their native languages. I like his movies quite a lot, so no big surprise that I also liked this French production, directed by him.

Like lots of French genre pieces, this one kicks against the bourgeoisie world and shows it as something far from perfect, with lying and cheating characters.

Like basically all Max Ophüls movies, it picks a woman's perspective. It also shows all of the characters are far from perfect creatures, each with their own shortcomings and realistic emotions and feelings. You don't have to expect an usual and predictable Hollywood period drama with Max Ophüls at the helm. It's what makes him an unique director and it makes his movies often a real treat.

It's also a really well shot movie, that is great looking. It's in black & white, which suits a genre period piece like this one and it has some impressive looking sets and equal camera-work. Its costume design even got nominated for an Oscar.

Besides, it's a very compelling movie, due to its well written story, that got based on a novel by French writer Louise de Vilmorin. It's a story that progresses nicely and takes its time to set up the story and its characters. It has drama, romance, basically everything you would expect from a movie like this, only brought to you in a non-formulaic way by Max Ophüls.

A compelling French period piece from Max Ophüls.

8/10

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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