Thursday, February 9, 2012

Movie Review: A Man and a Woman

A Man and a Woman is shallow, glib, and absolutely gorgeous. The story isn’t much; it’s about the tentative romance between a widow (Anouk Aimée) and a widower (Jean-Louis Trintignant), both in their thirties, who meet at their respective children’s boarding school. Claude Lelouch, who directed, co-wrote the script, and provided the outstanding cinematography, suffuses everything with glamour. The Aimée and Trintignant characters are beautiful, charming people with dream professions--she’s a film-production script supervisor, he races cars at Le Mans and Monte Carlo--and every scene looks like the basis for what would be some of the finest slick-magazine advertising layouts ever published. One may want to bask in the characters and settings, which, like the best advertising imagery, manage to be romantic and down-to-earth simultaneously. Beyond that, the attraction of the film is Lelouch’s extraordinary cinematic showmanship. He makes extensive use of the stylistic hallmarks of peers such as Antonioni, Godard, and Truffaut--the documentary locations, the naturalistic dialogue and acting, the modernist use of technique as a content in itself, among many others--but he doesn’t employ them for dramatic or poetic effect. He uses them decoratively, and his facility and resourcefulness in this are remarkable. It is hard not to marvel at Lelouch’s elegance; he turns slickness into an art. The famous score is by Francis Lai.

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