Cet Amour-La is a fictionalized account of a 16 year affair between French writer Marguerite Duras and a shy young man named Yann Andrea who was her apprentice and [possible] lover during the last few years of her life.
Yann (Aymerix Demagigny) who was in his early 20's and Duras (Jeanne Moreau) who was in her 60's exchanged letters for years. One day she invited him to meet her. The film begins with their meeting at Duras' seaside apartment in Trouville and goes from there as they develop their complex and interesting relationship.
Jeanne Moreau is good in her role as Marguerite Duras. She plays the combative, disturbed, drunken and aging writer with skill and makes the character her own. I don't know if she captures the true Duras but as a performance it is as good as she has done in quite a long time. Indeed if anyone has followed Moreau's career one might be inclined to believe she was playing a version of herself.
As directed by Josee Dayan the film has some style, is well paced and deals with the subject of love in unique but poignant ways. The film too
moves effortlessly from scene to scene. Too effortless perhaps because the film doesn't feel like 16 years pass and the narrative arc is a bit flat.
The weak link in the film is the character of Yann who is presented as a rather vague and boring character who follows Duras around like a puppy but is never convincing as the kind of guy who could interest Duras - who was a world figure of great renown.
But perhaps that is the point. After all, he is a common young man who needs direction and she is a woman at the end of her life who needs a muse. Together they form an interesting relationship that has a mother and son element as well as a Svengali-like story - with the woman being the teacher to the neophyte young man.
Cet Amour-La has some tough edges to it that belie a simplistic or maudlin storyline. But sometimes too it does have a few cliches that cannot be avoided due to the subject matter. At the heart of the film is a true passion about the literary creative process that the two are able to achieve together and the love that grows from that unique relationship.
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic. The film is transferred from PAL to NTSC and looks good but not great. The image looks clean and the colors are muted. There is some artefact but from what I could tell the transfer is above average and does not appeared sped up like some PAL tranfers can be.
Audio is in french stereo with subtitles. Nothing too exceptional here. There is a musical score that adds a love story mood but it fits the subject fairly well.
The only extra of note is The Making of Cet Amour-La, which is 14 minutes long and features interviews with the two main actors and the director. They talk a lot about the love affair, the importance of literature which is the 'third character' and the way that the two actors formed a bond to make the film work. Other than this there is a trailer as well as 4 other trailers including Gabbeh, In Praise of Love and It's Easier for a Camel.
Cet Amour-La is a Jeanne Moreau vehicle. If you see it, see it for her. If you are interested in Marguerite Duras it might simply be a footnote in your interest. If you know nothing about either then you might find a movie about an older woman and a young man 40 years younger interesting. The DVD looks and sounds good and features one modest extra.