September 19, 2005

Cornell Cinema

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This week, Cornell Cinema is highlighting two movies based on the trials of the modern marriage. Both Don’t Move and Happily Ever After explore two family men who must deal with the temptation of infidelity, its consequences, and the reaction of their families. In addition to their engaging plots, both films are prime examples of beautiful moviemaking.

Don’t Move

This Italian movie, which earned multiple awards in that country features Penelope Cruz in her best performance since Todo sobre mi madre as Italia, a slightly impoverished and eccentric woman who happens to meet up with a sophisticated doctor Timoteo (Sergio Castellitto, who also directs) whose car has broken down. For reasons unknown, Timoteo abandons his cultured ways and rapes Italia starting a strange and often tortuous relationship between them. Timoteo lives a double life between his wife (Claudia Gerini) and his strange relationship with Italia. This story is accompanied by other tangental plots following Timoteo’s coworkers and friends.

All of this is further complicated by the fact that we only see the story through flashbacks in Timoteo’s mind as he waits inside his hospital for his daughter to go through surgery following a potentially mortal traffic accident.

In addition to the unique narrative style of this movie, Castellitto’s directorial skill is shown through the vibrant color and camera movement in this film. However, what makes Don’t Move most interesting is its trust in the audience. Instead of guiding its views by the hand, the film lets us decide many times what is motivating the character’s actions. Why does Timoteo decide to abandon his refined life? Does his wife know? These and many more questions are what make Don’t Move an incredibly bold, and interesting film.

This Wednesday, the showing of Don’t Move will be followed by commentary by Cornell Alumnus and film distributor Larry Jackson ’70.

Happily Ever After

Talented director Yvan Attal’s new film centers on the lives of three men, all approaching mid-life crisis in Paris. One is Georges (Alain Chabat) who finds himself married, to a nagging wife (Emmanuelle Seigner) who he constantly pledges to cheat on, but we know he still loves her too much to actually follow through. The second is Fred (Alain Cohen), the unmarried playboy who spends each night with a different woman. The third man, Vincent (Attal himself) finds himself married to a beautiful wife Gabrielle (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and raising a son but simply has become jaded by his life and seeks excitement in the arms of another woman.

All of these plot lines seem rather familiar; however Attal is careful not to let his film become just another thirtysomething whine fest. Instead, Happily Ever After is infused with great comedic moments, witty dialogue, great camerawork, and a killer soundtrack. The film is filled with memorable and unique moments. Particularly fun to watch are the interactions between Georges and his wife, which are as spiked with wit and comedy as any argument that occurred between Ralph and Alice Kramden. Equally interesting to see are the scenes between Attal and Gainsbourg, who are married in real life. Both actors make what could be very plastic roles, very empathetic and real. Gainsbourg is perfect as Gabrielle as she reacts to her husband’s infidelity.

Even Johnny Depp shows up and speaks about two lines of French. After realizing her husband is seeing another woman, Gabrielle uses him as a fantasy to escape. One of the film’s best scenes occurs when they stand at a listening booth in a record store both playing Radiohead’s “Creep.” Although nothing happens, and only glances are exchanged, the scene is rife with sexual tension. Attal balances his film with both fast paced, and patient camera work resulting in a smart, and effective commentary on middle-age.

Archived article by Mark Rice
Film Editor