Recommended: Someone I Loved

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!


Though I'm fond of Daniel Auteuil, that film passed under my radar somehow. No surprise that Marie-Josée Croze is exactly 20 years younger than Auteuil. I assume that with a Duchesse recommendation it has redeeming features, such as complexity, but I confess I'd be more interested in a film where the new flame is closer in age to him and first wife.
Julianne said…
Thanks for the review. I will check it out on Netflix.
Mardel said…
I don't think it is available on netflix yet, but I will keep it in mind.
materfamilias said…
Thanks so much for the recommendation -- I'll cross my fingers that this comes to the (quite decent, independently-family-owned) video store near us soon.
Interestingly, in two books I've recently read, a young French women and her normally withdrawn father-in-law confide in each other . . . I'll be watching the film with some interest in how that relationship is depicted.
Susan B said…
Ooh, have to add this one to my list!

We just watched "Paris" over the weekend (recorded from one of the cable channels) with Juliette Binoche which was quite enjoyable.
spacegeek said…
Brings up the issue plaguing me lately it seems. Should one stay for propriety and property? Why do we seem to feel that Love is worth pursuing no matter the costs? I've seen this ruin marriages dear to me... Any thoughts on the topics addressed in the film, hm?
spacegeek, it isn't an easy matter, as sometimes sacrificing love or one's dreams can also mean sacrificing one's own élan and creating just as negative environment for one's children as leaving can (provided "leaving" doesn't mean abandoning all parental responsibilities, as is too often the case.

I won't often speak of self about these things, and I'll be extremely general, but I have a long-distance "interest" who stayed too long in a dead marriage for the sake of their child, who is now an adult university graduate. Even after they separated, it has been very hard for him to give himself psychic permission to start life anew, though he is very fond of me.

No 20-year age difference, en passant!
Duchesse said…
lagatta and spacegeek: The question requires much soul searching. I know people who have chosen both roads- and a middle road: staying, but with a long-term secondary partner. There has been no clear winning strategy among those I've observed. Some who stayed (more these days for assets than propriety) are miserable and bitter. For others, the passion they felt for the new attraction passed.

I think, though this may change should the situation present itself, I would not want a partner to stay knowing he truly yearned to be elsewhere.

lagatta, that the other woman is younger is not just a reflection of what happens so often (and this taps into a fear many women have), but it is necessary to a twist of the plot- which I will not reveal!

All: The DVD is also for sale on eBay.
Duchesse said…
materfamilias: I think the DIL/FIL bond can be deep and special, a 'second father' without the baggage. In the film, they are not quite at that level, but his revelation has a definite effect.
Maggie said…
Always an interesting topic. Why so many loves gone sour? Or should I say marriages? Is the "till death..." haunting everyone who dares to speak those words? What is love really? Are there as many interpretations as there are lovers? And the DIL/FIL relationship...interesting. I would wonder about the circumstances that would help that develop. All in all, sounds like a film worth seeing.
s. said…
Thank you for the recommendation. I had not heard of the film but will now go out of my way to find it.
Duchesse said…
maggie: Thanks for the idea of "kinds of love", I think that too. And marriages mean different things. But as a generalization, one has to devote time and attention to keep love alive, it's not a cactus.

A DIL?FIL friendship begins when a FIL who has been a good parent extends this support to a new member of the family, And when a DIL wants this closeness.

s: Available at the Film Buff- I got it from the Queen/Greenwood location.
materfamilias said…
No wonder your description of the film reminded me of books I've read/been reading lately: I've just got back to reading the book I picked up in Paris -- by Anna Gavalda, whose writing I enjoy -- and found that it's titled Je l'aimais. The movie's obviously based on this very book . . .
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