Magazine article Screen International

'In the Shadow of Women': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'In the Shadow of Women': Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Philippe Garrel. France/Switzerland. 2015. 73mins

It may be set in contemporary Paris, but In The Shadow of Women (L'Ombre Des Femmes) has the textures and trappings of a nouvelle vague relic from the 1960s. The moody, black-and-white cinematography, literary voice-over and intense exploration of messy relationships and broken hearts effortlessly evokes the world of Eric Rohmer and Francois Truffaut. Veteran director Philippe Garrel subverts the nostalgic mood by turning the travails of a married couple into a lightly witty treatise on double-standards in relationships where men think they can act with impunity and women are merely expected to suffer in silence.

Garrel has remained stubbornly under-appreciated and under-exposed throughout his fifty-year career and In The Shadow Of Women, which opened Director's Fortnight at Cannes, is unlikely to win a whole new army of converts. It will make a welcome addition to festival programmes, however, and will be best appreciated by older cineastes and Garrel loyalists.

Garrel's screenwriting collaborators once again include his partner, the actress and writer Caroline Deruas, which can't help but suggest elements of autobiography in the story of struggling filmmaker Pierre (Stanislas Merhar) and his deeply devoted wife Manon (Clotilde Courau). Pierre is assembling a documentary on a wartime resistance hero and Manon offers him unconditional support in their work and home life. When Pierre embarks on an affair with intern Elisabeth (Lena Paugam), he believes it is entirely possible to have both women in his life. …

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