Compared to French New Wave cinema’s torchbearers, the cinema of Claude Sautet seem orthodox, different and quite free from unconventional tags attached but at the same time its refreshingly poetic and original in its treatment and execution with Sautet's delicately nuanced touch of his own. In the final spell of his career Claude Sautet carried the full bloom of his creativity with refreshingly mature mark. After watching one of most beautiful film last night, this follow up and the last film of Sautet is one of most refine and beautiful full stop of his graceful career.
An old divorced man who has seen life and time being a judge and then a successful businessman wanted to publish a memoir of his own. By chance meeting in restaurant he encounters a young and pretty Nelly meddling with her personal struggles. He offered her a hand of relief to clear her due debts and also offers an assignment to type his dictated lines for completion of his book. The regular sessions start between two and it slowly opening up both individuals. A strange but strong bond of intimacy starts building between these two opposite sex of opposite age. It starts breaking barriers between these two strangers when confessing and confronting some of the most personal truths so normally with each other their meetings become more than just a regular routine, its an hour one most eagerly awaited in normal and regular life. But this routine has to end one day! While dealing with subject and characters, Sautet once again maintained a delicate, unhurried and natural pace that permeates the whole film; surely a grace of most of Sautet films. Its world where everything seems so natural and fluid whether characters, their conversation, the status and growth of their complex relationships, nothing seems forced or thrust here.
Sautet’s subjective treatment towards the characters beautifully captures the fragmentary nature of love and its longing in most of his films. There are two intimate and touchy scenes beautifully captured by Sautet between lead protagonists. While Nelly's sleeping in Arnaud’s bedroom in her surprise night stay, we see that the old man carried away by instinctual urge trying to touch her body and then controlling his temptations. When half awake Nelly witnesses his presence near her bed, instead of expected alarm, she wanted him to stay there. We witness that soon she fell back to sleep holding his hand like an innocent child seeking comforting and caring tender touch. The whole silent and private moment encapsulates the realization for Arnaud to set her free from his unlikely attachment at old age. If you have witnessed the pensive moments exchanged in the beautiful final frame of ‘A Heart in Winter’, you must know how gracefully Sautet offered the space for stolen moments in his films. Similar to that film, the last few moments shared between two departed souls here echoes same vibrations. Ah! there is something so divine in that sudden and stolen hug between these two souls.
There’s sublime mixture of beauty and talent in some of refined French actresses. Just like her earlier combination with Sautet, once again Emmanuelle Beart gave one of most resonant performance during the ripe age of her career. Sautet represented her as wishful mademoiselle in both of his final films. Beart has perhaps the liveliest pair of eyes with myriad expressions. Michel Serrault as Arnaud reflects one of most sophisticated act performed by an aging actor. And how can I miss Philippe Sarde’s melodious classical score both in opening and closing titles that echoes emotional vibrations to Sautet’s intimate touch.
This is cinema to surrender your senses.