The 2009 film "Je l'aimais" (Someone I Loved) is now available on DVD.
Daniel Auteuil plays a 60ish man, Pierre, who recounts the story of his love affair to his distraught, soon-to-be-ex-daughter-in-law, Chloe (played with weary misery by Florence Loiret Calle).
When Pierre was in his 50s, he experienced a coup de foudre when he met Mathilde (Marie-Josée Croze) on a business trip to Hong Kong.
Transformed by love and lust, he plans to leave his wife, Suzanne (Christiane Millet), to "finally feel alive". Pierre has been an appalling husband and father, buried in his work, so his defection doesn't appear to be such a loss to his family.
But then, confronted by several events, he wavers.
The scene that moved me most was that between Suzanne and Pierre, in which she delivers an agonized yet underplayed indictment of their marriage.
The film captures those unions characterized by coexistence without outright hostility, but little evident love.
Je l'aimais asks, Should property and propriety keep a couple together, or should one of them leave, to truly love? The story, told in flashbacks, spares no character his or her flaws and inconsistencies.
Auteuil is, as usual, superb at playing an everyman in too deep.
Of course, being a French film, you get to see quite a bit of the gorgeous Montreal actress Marie-Josée Croze ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "The Barbarian Invasions"). I found her ardour for the stolid Pierre hard to believe, but "le cœur a ses raisons...".
Mathilde would be any long-term partner's nightmare: alluring, accomplished and gunning for the full-time slot. But Croze's acting deftly subverts the usual clichés, offering a glimpse of steel beneath the wispy dress.
Tell me what you think!