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Clara Et Moi
Even though Antoine (Julien Boisselier) makes plenty of money and his friends often envy his successful career he feels lonely: his heart aches for that special person with whom he can share his life. So when Antoine meets the beautiful Clara (Julie Gayet) at the subway in Paris he decides to give faith a chance and invite her for a drink. Without exchanging any words Antoine hands Clara a tiny note asking if she would accept to see him. She smiles and hands back another note with a positive answer.
A few days later Antoine calls Clara and asks if she would like to have dinner with him. She agrees and the couple attends a quiet bistro where they spend most of the night enjoying a bottle of wine. Soon Antoine and Clara fall madly in love and begin drawing plans for their future. Antoine tells his friends that his life is now complete and that he could not be any happier. But after a routine visit to the local hospital the doctors tell Clara that she is HIV positive.
A heartbreaking story of romance, longing, and broken dreams Clara et Moi a.k.a Clara and I (2004) is a tiny jewel of cinema that begs to be seen. The film is so simple, modest, and unpretentious that even though the characters reveal some minor flaws the story more than makes up for it. This is a film about fate and the manner in which it often affects our lives while we attempt to build a future with our loved ones. Clara et Moi is also a film about one man's struggle to overcome his personal fears.
The simple story which director Arnaud Viard has complimented with a beautiful camera work is technically divided into two parts. The first, happy, part is where we see Antoine transforming from a semi-satisfied with his existence man into a person totally dedicated to the woman he loves. His job, his friends, everything seizes to exist the moment he encounters Clara.
The second, more sobering, part shows a man crushed by reality and his inability to overcome his own fears. Antoine begins to question himself, his feelings for Clara, even the manner in which he has been treating his friends. He goes back to where all of us attempt to find answers when we are alone: our families. There he rediscovers what makes him a man and what it truly means to love another human being.
I liked how intentionally simple Clara et Moi was. There were no fake emotions in this film nor there were any moral lessons to be learned. What Arnaud Viard offers is a slice of life showing two people and their feelings. Yes, the story is quite predictable but I don't think that there is anything left that happens between a man and a woman that could still surprise audiences with profound originality. Sometimes a simple story told in the most simple of ways is more than enough to create a film worth spending your time on.
Official website and Trailer: http://www.pyramidefilms.com/clara-et-moi/
In 2004 Clara et Moi was nominated for Best Film at the Lyon Festival of New Generation Cinema.
How Does the Film Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's Clara et Moi appears to have been mastered from a secondary PAL source. There is some minor "ghosting" which is not as disturbing as I have seen on other such ports but...it is here and it can be seen. In addition, the video quality suggests some overcompression which is rather obvious during daylight scenes. I would assume that the print herein reviewed was derived from the French TF1 release. All in all this is an acceptable product for tube viewing (and given the low profile of the film that is probably more than enough) but those with more sensitive home equipments should keep in mind the above mentioned issues.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with its original French language track in Dolby Digital the audio presentation is rather solid. The sound is crisp and clear and the dialog very easy to follow. There are no substantial faults with the audio presentation that I could hear. In French with optional English subtitles.
There are no extras to be found on this DVD whatsoever.
A very simple film with a predictable story Clara et Moi is a typical French love affair where nothing is as sugarcoated as we have come to expect from similar Hollywood productions. The DVD is by no means an impressive product but given the fact that the film is nowhere to be found or seen in an English-friendly form fans of intelligently-made romantic features should definitely take a look at it : RECOMMENDED.