the very beginning of this film you become almost instantly aware that
about to view something slowly paced. We find our lead character, Jean,
a builder who works on constructing houses) drilling away while working
seemingly dull and repetitive job. The camera stays with this for
minutes. I wanted to mention this right off the bat because knowing
make you want to avoid this film, which could probably be viewed, at
some basic level, as an antithesis to works from Michael Bay (the
films that lack in subtlety). Mademoiselle
Chambon is certainly lacking in adrenaline (i.e. explosions) or
while this film is rich in subtlety, the story you'll find is a simple
Perhaps it is even too simple. Jean (Vincent Lindon) is an average man
works to provide for his family. He is married and has one young son.
early scene we see him struggle to understand some homework given to
so we know from that moment forward that he is not simply working
because of a love for it. He seems depressed in most scenes, but also
happy enough in others when in the company of his family. Then one day
Mademoiselle Chambon (Sandrine Kiberlain), who is a new teacher at the
his son attends. She converses with him as he picks up his child and
a slight flirtation. The rest of the film focuses primarily on that
its growth and continuation, and in looking at the psyche of these two
characters, without letting us in on what they are specifically
thinking in any
given moment. Can a relationship brew between them? If so, wouldn't
that be going
against the conventions of what we can accept as a society? The movie
to look at the possibility of a possible romance brewing between these
people. We know that they should not be together based upon things like
backgrounds, personality differences, and the fact that the man in this
scenario already has a family. Yet the film wants us to pause and ask
they could be together?"
a weaker cast this movie would self-collapse almost instantaneously. We are expected to sympathize with characters
want a romantic bond to flourish between one another despite issues
easily prevent such a thing from ever happening. As an audience member,
sometimes be hard to accept such behavior when one considers the family
background of Jean, and it leaves no small task to the actors to make
connect emotionally to the story being told. This is where I left the
feeling somewhat disappointed. It was beautifully filmed. The actors
did a good
job of trying to portray the complexity of their emotions. The
the story provoked a wide range of thoughts, leaving room for
discussion, and encouraging
interpretation. I just could not connect to these characters, which is
important point, and a huge detractor.
the pacing was slow, it was the result of a film-maker working with a
artistic passion to capture the emotional complexities of Jean and
Chambon. This correlates with one thing I did also appreciate about the
it was willing to take chances with its style and hope that the
still be there to appreciate those risks.
of these superior qualities can quite guarantee enjoyment of this film
By the time the final frame flashed before my eyes I simply felt a cold
of detachment from the conclusion I had just witnessed. I never did
these characters. I never felt as though I had an opportunity to truly
know them. The most I learned was that they are sad and lonely people
separate lives, and who both shared a bond over music while cautiously
and leaving important things left unsaid. Their bond was a silent one.
as though words were not necessary to express their love. Or was it
both of them?
just too bad that I felt coldness as the credits rolled. I can hardly
the film-maker's intent was for that.
The film is presented in its original French language with a 5.1 Dolby
Digital surround track. The clarity was strong and there were some good
the surrounds for the music in the film. Just remember that this was a
budget drama and keep your expectations in check. There are few uses of
surrounds for special effects, but the audio is somewhat enveloping.
this was more impressive than I was necessarily expecting.
The English subtitles are optional and can be
turned on or off.
in its original theatrical exhibition ratio of
2:35:1, viewers will be glad to know the DVD transfer does not
is a strong transfer that manages to capture the somewhat bleak yet
photography employed with the film. It does not appear to have any
video manipulations, and is all the better for it. This film never
the impression of being a high budget production. However, it should be
the source and not much better could be done with that without viewing
Blu-ray edition (also available by Lorber Films).
must admit to being even more
impressed by the included extras than by the film itself. While you
any extensive making of materials or even an audio commentary track,
material that is included is very informative and for anyone who viewed
film, it should be fascinating to fully explore. Regardless of one's
the movie itself, the director will make you interested in his thought
behind putting it all together. In the Interview
with Director Stephane Brize, an unseen interviewer questions many
stylistic and content choices made in the film. Brize answers these
with grace and surprising honesty. I learned a lot about the history of
film came into existence, and what specifically inspired its creation
this relates to his motivation. The book the film is based upon is also
discussed in relation to the differences between the two versions and
author's response to the screenplay. If you ever were annoyed by a
wasn't willing to say he had some regrets, you won't find that kind of
display here. We learn what he is proud of and what he may have
with the editing and narrative force of the film, and it gave me a
appreciation for the work put into Mademoiselle
Chambon. Some interesting facts about the success of the film are
good extra is a re-edited
and compiled series of deleted scenes the director wanted to rearrange
together into a sort of "short film". It's not really sound in
in the context of viewing the film and this bonus it does give a better
on some of the ideas he had considered pursing as a filmmaker. This
extra has a
special introduction by film critic Stephane Goudet.
to round up the extras we
get some stills from the film that can be clicked through, the
trailer and a handful of trailers for other Lorber Films releases.
was an interesting and inspired film about unsaid words
and romantic connections. However, it will not appeal to everyone, and
suffer from some poor characterization. If you are in the mood to take
on something different, with unique performances, it would make a good
If you end up liking the film the extras are informative and enjoyable
to warrant a purchase. Rent it.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.