Movie Review by Neil Ryan
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Kristin Scott Thomas, Pascale Bussieres Ludivine Sagnier, Jean Yanne
Director: Pascal Bonitzer
Pascal Bonitzer has quite a pedigree in the world of film. For more than fifteen years he was the editor of the influential journal ‘Cahiers Du Cinema’, and also enjoyed acclaim as a scriptwriter before deciding to take the helm as director for the first time in the mid-Nineties. PETITES COUPURES is the third film that he has directed from one of his own original screenplays and he has assembled an eye-catching cast to appear in it: French superstar Daniel Auteuil is joined by Oscar nominated English actress Kristin Scott Thomas and rising star Ludivine Sagnier – fresh from her luminously sexy performance in SWIMMING POOL.
Auteuil stars as the troubled Bruno, a Parisian journalist who works for a Communist newspaper. His ideology has been put to the test by the political upheaval that followed the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and his personal life is thrown into disarray when his wife Gaelle (Emmanuelle Devos) discovers that he is having an affair. She subsequently decides that they need some time apart and heads off to stay with her mother. Bruno is thus left with his tiresome girlfriend Nathalie (Sagnier) for company when he decides to go to Grenoble where he is needed to help his uncle revive an ailing mayoral re-election campaign. Whilst he is there Bruno manages to annoy or attract just about everyone he come into contact with as he stumbles from one conflict to the next. Indeed, no sooner does a distraught Nathalie walk out on him, when he encounters the entrancing but contrary Beatrice (Scott Thomas) who acts as the catalyst for a further sequence of misadventures which ultimately lead Bruno to a plateau of relative harmony.
PETITES COUPURES is essentially a study of one man’s mid-life crisis. Bruno is a weak individual: emotionally self-indulgent and intellectually unassertive. He is steering a rudderless course through life, veering between romantic liaisons without attempting to accept control of events or responsibility for his actions. His aimless meanderings, punctuated by admissions of self-loathing, lead him into all manner of predicaments: being challenged to a brawl in a bar, contemplating an act of euthanasia which borders on murder, and, finally, he finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun. That he emerges from it all a better person reflects the fact that PETITES COUPURES stands firmly in the lighter half of the tragic-comic dichotomy. It is amusing, involving, but ultimately rather slight and does not really tell us anything we do not already know about how pathetic men can be.