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Cet Amour-Là


Cet Amour-Là


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In writer-director Josée Dayan's Cet Amour-Là, Jeanne Moreau alternately pursues a man more than 40 years her junior and reveals her vulnerability to him. Moreau portrays a real-world acquaintance of hers, novelist-screenwriter Marguerite Duras, in the last 16 years of her life, when she drank too much and took up with fawning protégé Yann Andréa (played in the film by Aymeric Demarigny). Cet Amour-Là breezily depicts the decade-plus span of their affair, during which Duras revived her career, Andréa began his own, and the natural process of aging stymied their open romantic minds. Moreau is magnetic as the wise-but-neurotic scribe, though the same can't be said of Demarigny, whose timid portrayal of a reverent fanboy sucks the energy out of most of his scenes. Dayan's direction is even more problematic. As a 30-year veteran of French television productions, she knows how to move the camera and deploy Angelo Badalamenti's score in such a way that the artistry is invisible and only the tasteful depiction of human drama remains. Cet Amour-Là, however, is way too tasteful. Dayan needs to creep out the crowd a little, to show how passion can overcome a yawning generation gap, and once Duras begins to slide into dementia, the film could stand more (or even some) outright absurdity. Instead, Dayan keeps the material bone-dry, and relies too much on abstract romanticizing of the act of writing. Duras and Andréa are always going on about their work, and speaking rapturously of the literary arts as though they saved souls with each tap of the typewriter keys. And maybe they did. But Dayan doesn't get anywhere close to conveying that kind of mad compulsion. Any profundity in Cet Amour-Là rests solely in the lines on Moreau's face.