The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

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tenia
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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#26 Post by tenia » Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:48 am

I was agreeably surprised by Le bossu when discovering it a couple of years ago for its BD release. It's fun, breezy, pure entertainment but done in a very competent way. It's a tad overlong, but it's overall a very good swashbuckler movie.
It was all the more surprising to me because the original movie is kind of a huge patrimony in France, except that it is said to actually have extremely poorly aged.

As for The Fifth Element Best Director win... it probably was a move from the Academy to give a prize to someone who helmed a massive international success like this one, something French movies didn't have for years. The movie also was a massive success in France, only appealing more to give it something to break the Césars' image of a smug Academy that were only rewarding auteur dramas. (Note that it also won best photography and best set design, beating both times Le bossu).

Finally, for this year, I would advise (if an English-friendly release exists) to give a spin to Le cousin, with Chabat and Timsit, which I always found to be a good cop story.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#27 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:05 pm

I was reading that until Intouchables (which seemingly was a box office smash in every country in the world but the states), the Fifth Element had the highest worldwide gross of any French production, so that makes sense. Also, though none of Besson's films ever won the top prize, many have been nominated, so it might also be a bit of a case of them addressing the "always a bridesmaid" impression in a year when no one could be too upset about it

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#28 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:15 am

Image

1985

L'Effrontée (Claude Miller)
Charlotte Gainsbourg is the titular rude girl, a thirteen year old whose uneventful summer vacation is upended by the arrival of a young pianist. Gainsbourg is captivated by the young girl and briefly finagles her way into the musician’s inner circle, only to take one of the girl’s offhand remarks (“You should be my manager”) as a genuine offer. Gainsbourg’s character is quite realistically portrayed— in terms of showing how annoying, selfish, and cruel a thirteen year old can be, the film runs circles around more rosy-tinted depictions. And because we know something she doesn’t, namely that the offer was insincere and she’s not going anywhere, all of Gainsbourg’s actions are able to be seen as Bernadette LaFont’s maid character sees them: tiring, but also quite sad since the heartbreak is not hard to see coming. Far less successful here, though, is a subplot involving Gainsbourg being courted and nearly raped by a pederast— in a film with such realistic motivators, why spend so much time and energy on more conventional melodrama? Jean-Claude Brialy is quite good in his small role as the pianist’s actual manager, who recognizes his client’s selfishness and goes out of his way to remind and coerce the girl into not hurting Gainsbourg’s feelings— in a film filled with realistic portrayals of distant and flawed adults who don’t seem to understand how to connect to a thirteen year old, he unexpectedly comes across as the most aware and successful of adults in navigating this world, but unfortunately also the one with the least connection to Gainsbourg’s day-to-day life.

Oddly, I saw this almost ten years ago and could not remember a thing about it, so I had to revisit for the purposes of this list. Me enjoying this so much completely shakes up my policy of “If I can’t remember anything about it, it probably wasn’t a good movie,” though!

Péril en la demeure (Michel Deville)
I’ve been watching Deville’s films chronologically but I skipped ahead for this and my affection for it may throw a wrench in getting people here to discover this crucial underlooked auteur, as I loved this as much as his core early films with Nina Companeez and think it shows Deville’s great strengths in fluidity of narrative and uneasy combinations of genre expectations. This is ostensibly a typical noir plot: Married rich woman carries on affair, someone finds out and starts blackmailing the lovers, lover kills husband, and things get complicated. And yet every aspect is tweaked: zedz criticized the film elsewhere for having a “back-patting ‘erotic’ edginess” to it, but I think quite tellingly Deville only begins his film with these elements before discarding them completely. We quickly go from an absurd scene where Anémone is trying to shock Christophe Malavoy by talking about their barmaid’s “pussy hairs” and a geometrically nude sex scene with future director and Cesar mainstay Nicole Garcia, both of which are pitched so high that I don’t know how anyone can take them at face value, and then swiftly move on to much weirder territory as Richard Bohringer’s assassin ingratiates himself into Malavoy’s life, commanding friendship and offering him advice that is coded in homosexual meaning. Deville films all of the complications and narrative movements with some clever camera movements and creative bridging wherein the movement from one scene is resolved in the next (Malavoy reaches up in bed to grab a canister, pulling it back down fully dressed in his kitchen, &c). More than mere showiness, I think Deville is showing us how his different genres and approaches are bleeding into one another, until we don’t know what’s really going on. And as in something like the Big Sleep, we’re pulled so many ways by the end that we don’t even really care about the specifics of the resolution, so long as it feels right. And this feels right. [P]

Sans toit ni loi (Agnes Varda)
I am obviously far less enamored with Varda than most here, and while this is one of her better films, it just doesn’t work. Having your protagonist be a blank slate for others to bounce off of is a decent idea, and better films have been made that prove it, but the array of “characters” Sandrine Bonnaire encounters here are mostly as uninteresting and unexplored as our unknowable protagonist. What to even say about a movie like this? Whatever it is people get out of Varda, I don’t— maybe her work is like Bonnaire and people just add to it what they want to see? I want to see something else, though.

Subway (Luc Besson)
Platinum-haired Christopher Lambert’s man of mystery swipes some important documents from Isabelle Adjani and absconds to the Metro in this flagship vehicle of the so-called “Cinema du look.” Well, I don’t know about any “movement” that encompasses all of three people, but this to me looks like any other zeitgeist-aspiring “Youth versus the Man” movie, with the usual 80s teen cinema sheen of MTV-style editing and camera-movements. I have so little patience for counterculture-aimed movies like this in any time period or national cinema, and always have, as they always fall into ringing the same tired anti-authority peals while never making an adequate argument in favor of loafing and just jammin’ with your cool musical hobo buddies. Am I supposed to find Lambert’s voyage below the tracks inspiring? It’s not particularly eventful, unless Lambert pulling a gun on the only guy to be nice to him is what counts as a fun time. Oh wow, bumbling police detectives, that’s a fresh take on the nefarious forces looking to put The Kids down— gosh darn those institutional structures, we just want to play in a band and have a good time, man. The film only ventures out of the titular structure once, for a scene in which Adjani is ruder than any of the allegedly lamer party guests she tells off at a ritzy soiree, which I guess was a moment that really needed to be in this movie because there was a danger of it being subtle. By the time Lambert assembled his band in the Metro and had them all dress alike in safari gear complete with pith helmets, I gave up trying to even bother engaging with this film on any level than a free-associative music video. On that level the film was at least never boring.

Trois hommes et un couffin (Colin Serreau)
A trio of bachelors find their carefree lives changed after André Dussollier’s former lover leaves a baby on their doorstep. Imagine every gag you could conjure about clueless dudes trying to take care of a baby and you’d have enough material for maybe five minutes. This movie stretches that and combines it with some truly stupid plot complications involving hidden dope and police detectives and angry drug dealers and the film’s first half becomes rather excruciating in its phoniness as it juggles all of these elements. However, the second half fares much better once it pivots to showing how the bachelors not only adjust to being parents but rise to it and come to love it, which is just yet another data point in my stance that it’s always more interesting to watch characters find ways to be smart rather than to watch them be idiots. Amazingly, the film kinda won me over by the end by being a sweet depiction of familial love and sacrifice. However, these positives are tempered by the film’s rather toxic view of women, who are all depicted solely as either empty-headed sexual conquests or ill-equipped career women. The film wants us to side with the men in their obligation to the baby, but it often does so by demonizing the array of women who share their beds and don’t “get” their responsibility. Along these lines, it’s also interesting how, at least in contrast to what I can recall of the American remake, this movie is an adult comedy with lots of nudity and not really pitched at a family-friendly audience despite the prominence of an infant.

MY VOTE: Péril en la demeure

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#29 Post by BenoitRouilly » Thu Nov 22, 2018 8:44 am

I've only seen 3 out of 5 of these movies... From least prefered to most :

3 hommes et 1 couffin. I haven't seen it again since the 80ies, but I remember it fondly as one of my favourite French comedy of the moment. It has been remade, and there are a lot of crossdressing / gender-swaping comedies nowadays, but it was pioneer in the genre, at least in France in 1984-85. I agree with your account of the filmsy plot, and the misogynistic caracters (the film wouldn't pass the Bechdel test today), but it's good fun all around. Especially the actors André Dussolier, Roland Giraud and Michel Boujenah. It's not Césars material (maybe it was a time when Césars rewarded popular comedies...)

Subway. Yeah it's goofy, the actors are too old to be teenagers, and the MTV style is too prevalent. But there is Eric Serra's score (who scored most of Besson's films in this period). And the set design is well representative of the 80ies. Isn't there Bacri in the police in one of his early career role? It's not the kind of movie we seek for intelligent script, it's just great fun.

Sans toit ni loi. aka Vagabond. The title is a play on word on "Sans foi ni loi" (no faith nor law) the kind of anarchist motto of the 80ies. This is a cult film! This is a Varda film (one of her best)! My pick for the César. I'm sorry it didn't work for you. Did you see Cléo de 5 à 7? Le Bonheur? Les glaneurs et la glaneuse?

As for Deville, did you see Dossier 51 (1978) yet in your filmography chronology? It's quite an oddity in the spy genre. I loved it.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#30 Post by zedz » Thu Nov 22, 2018 8:27 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:15 am
Péril en la demeure (Michel Deville)
I’ve been watching Deville’s films chronologically but I skipped ahead for this and my affection for it may throw a wrench in getting people here to discover this crucial underlooked auteur, as I loved this as much as his core early films with Nina Companeez and think it shows Deville’s great strengths in fluidity of narrative and uneasy combinations of genre expectations. This is ostensibly a typical noir plot: Married rich woman carries on affair, someone finds out and starts blackmailing the lovers, lover kills husband, and things get complicated. And yet every aspect is tweaked: zedz criticized the film elsewhere for having a “back-patting ‘erotic’ edginess” to it
I can barely remember what I had for breakfast, but I think that criticism was specifically aimed at La Lectrice. But that film seemed to me largely of a piece with this one (hence my lack of curiosity about the rest of Deville's work for all these years.)

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#31 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:53 pm

BenoitRouilly wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 8:44 am
Did you see Cléo de 5 à 7? Le Bonheur? Les glaneurs et la glaneuse?

As for Deville, did you see Dossier 51 (1978) yet in your filmography chronology? It's quite an oddity in the spy genre. I loved it.
I like Cléo de 5 à 7 well-enough, though attempts to make it a cornerstone work of the Nouvelle Vague are unconvincing-- as I've said before, while it would be a great story for a woman to beat all the boys in the Cahiers' offices at their directing game, it's just not remotely accurate. Le Bonheur I hated, and I think I went into it in the Criterion thread for the Varda box

And I haven't seen Dossier 51 yet, but it's on the list of this project!

++++++++++++++++++++++

Updated the first post with this year's announcements:
domino harvey wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:48 pm
2018
En liberté! (Pierre Salvadori)
Guy (Alex Lutz) Available to rent via Amazon Prime Video
Jusqu'à la garde (Xavier Legrand) RB Spirit (as Custody)
La douleur (Emmanuel Finkiel) R1 MusicBox (as Memoir of War)
Le Grand Bain (Gilles Lellouche) RB StudioCanal
Pupille (Jeanne Henry)
the Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard) RA Fox
Unfortunately, only Le Grand Bain's French release will see English subs (and the others are all DVD only too-- can you imagine a current Best Picture Oscar nominee getting a DVD-only release?), so the best bet for the three MIA titles is someone picks them up or they receive fan-subs via back channels.. but given they are commercial French cinema and there's still as many MIA from last year's selection, I'm not optimistic.

Where are my native French with their thoughts on this slate? Of the ones I'd never heard of (all save the Audiard and Legrand), I think En liberté! looks like the most fun and has a nice cast-- maybe Tautou's presence means someone stateside will at least pick it up for streaming

EDIT: Looks like Guy is available as a cheap rental on Amazon too

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#32 Post by BenoitRouilly » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:23 am

Even in France, Varda is often lumped into the Nouvelle Vague team, as a shortcut. But technically she was part of a competing group of the same period : La Rive Gauche (Left Bank, as opposed to the Cahiers's Right Bank of the Seine river in Paris) with Demy, Resnais, Marker, Melville...
As for evaluation, I wouldn't say her oeuvre is as strong as the "boys" (even in her own Rive Gauche), but because her output is more modest and less ambitious, especially at that period. But Cloé, alone, deserves a top spot (I believe its ranked 202 in the Sight and Sound Top250, it's far from those in la Nouvelle Vague, but it's among the best in film history). And I like Vagabond as well, but more for Sandrine Bonnaire than for the script maybe.
Last edited by BenoitRouilly on Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#33 Post by Fiery Angel » Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:41 am

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:53 pm
BenoitRouilly wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 8:44 am
Did you see Cléo de 5 à 7? Le Bonheur? Les glaneurs et la glaneuse?

As for Deville, did you see Dossier 51 (1978) yet in your filmography chronology? It's quite an oddity in the spy genre. I loved it.
I like Cléo de 5 à 7 well-enough, though attempts to make it a cornerstone work of the Nouvelle Vague are unconvincing-- as I've said before, while it would be a great story for a woman to beat all the boys in the Cahiers' offices at their directing game, it's just not remotely accurate. Le Bonheur I hated, and I think I went into it in the Criterion thread for the Varda box

And I haven't seen Dossier 51 yet, but it's on the list of this project!

++++++++++++++++++++++

Updated the first post with this year's announcements:
domino harvey wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:48 pm
2018
En liberté! (Pierre Salvadori)
Guy (Alex Lutz) Available to rent via Amazon Prime Video
Jusqu'à la garde (Xavier Legrand) RB Spirit (as Custody)
La douleur (Emmanuel Finkiel) R1 MusicBox (as Memoir of War)
Le Grand Bain (Gilles Lellouche) RB StudioCanal
Pupille (Jeanne Henry)
the Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard) RA Fox
Unfortunately, only Le Grand Bain's French release will see English subs (and the others are all DVD only too-- can you imagine a current Best Picture Oscar nominee getting a DVD-only release?), so the best bet for the three MIA titles is someone picks them up or they receive fan-subs via back channels.. but given they are commercial French cinema and there's still as many MIA from last year's selection, I'm not optimistic.

Where are my native French with their thoughts on this slate? Of the ones I'd never heard of (all save the Audiard and Legrand), I think En liberté! looks like the most fun and has a nice cast-- maybe Tautou's presence means someone stateside will at least pick it up for streaming

EDIT: Looks like Guy is available as a cheap rental on Amazon too
En liberté!, Le Grand Bain and Pupille are part of this year's Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center (along with Bruno Dumont's Li'l Quinquin sequel, among others), although none of those films has a U.S. distributor listed.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#34 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:00 am

Wow, thanks for highlighting this. Mouret will be there for his latest film too!

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#35 Post by domino harvey » Mon May 27, 2019 3:42 am

BenoitRouilly wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:13 pm
Tough to beat The Artist in 2011, but Pater or Kaurismaki's Le Havre would have my vote (if I had seen all nominees).
Pater is makeshift mockumentary, shot on a dime, on a President of France (Alain Cavalier himself) who is looking to end his mandate on a bang by nominating a new prime minister (Vincent Lindon) in order to pass a law on high salary caps. The whole film is made of discussions between them, at home, at the president's office, almost always improvised. A great insight on French political system and landscape.
The unsubbed list in the first post has gotten even smaller with some back channel appearances, and Pater is now available to rent with English subtitles on Amazon!

And Pupille has been picked up by Distrib, which means there should be an English friendly streaming option soon. It looks like it and the definitely worth seeing with a responsive crowd En liberté! will be playing the Boston French Film Festival in July as well, which I didn't even know was a thing!

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#36 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:21 pm

Okay, I gave up writing on these movies even though I'm still working my way through the list since only a few people even cared, but Mal de pierres (2016) gets special commendation for so efficiently moving from thoroughly mediocre and unremarkable would-be prestige cinema to the dumbest last act "reveal" I've ever seen in my life. It is as though someone took "There can't possibly be a worse way to end a story than 'It was all a dream'" as a dare. Why on earth would the Cannes selection committee invite this film into competition? I'm sure if they asked nicely Marion Cotillard would have shown up to the fest regardless

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#37 Post by Never Cursed » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:59 pm

Reading an online synopsis of the film, am I correct in believing that the "twist" you mention is that
SpoilerShow
Louis Garrel's character is wholly in the imagination of Cotillard's (explaining why he never becomes intimate with Cotillard), and Cotillard's husband is aware that she is deluded, but fails to tell her out of some demented kind of "respect?"
That's some spineless (stoneless?) filmmaking if that's the case.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#38 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:05 am

It's worse
SpoilerShow
Garrel is real but dies without ever consummating the affair because, you know, he's at the spa because he caught a deadly disease while fighting in Indochina. It's later revealed that her husband met Garrel, realized the two were either having an affair or about to, then returned to Cotillard's room that night and had sex with her because she thought he was Garrel. Thus their piano playing son is a misdirection (Garrel's character plays as well) and actually their son, not Garrel's love child. Cotillard and Garrel's subsequent romance in the film is revealed to completely be in Cotillard's head when she receives a bundle of her returned letters... at an address that she never could have received because Garrel left the spa suddenly before their romance really took off and died that same day. We know the address is real because the framing story is her visiting the address she sent the letters to and discovering that Garrel had died long before she realized. She also has a cherished photo of herself with Garrel at the spa. When she learns the truth, she goes back to look at the photo and she's sitting posed with an empty chair. This movie is soooo dumb.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#39 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:11 am

SpoilerShow
Beyond being dumb, that photo part at the end doesn’t even make sense. Are we supposed to believe that she was crazy before any triggering event of his death? Like she has a cherished photo which insinuates a memory of her with him that never happened? I love that there’s an empty chair though, that’s just hilarious.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#40 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:16 am

SpoilerShow
She is emotionally unstable throughout the film, so the implication is that this is in line with that (she's at the spa to take "the cure")-- at the beginning of the film she invents a romance with her clearly disinterested teacher on the basis of him lending her a copy of Wuthering Heights and flips out on him after he rejects her obscene "Fuck me" letter... though buying 40-something Cotillard as a randy teenager is just the first of many asks this film tasks us with! But there's a huge leap from flighty, spoiled, and mildly mentally ill to flat-out mass delusional, and this film missed about fifty steps in favor of preserving such a dumb twist. Whatta mess!

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#41 Post by Fiery Angel » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:06 pm

But she looks great every time we see her with a tear streaming down her cheek.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#42 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:36 pm

Or sprayed with a firehose

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#43 Post by Fiery Angel » Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:26 pm

I drew the line at that

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#44 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:21 am

It might just be the chatting to an empty chair thing but from this write up I'm just imagining the American remake with Clint Eastwood in the Cotillard role! Now that I'd watch!

(And domino I don't have much to contribute here, but if you want to please feel free to write up your views on these films and nominations! They are always fun to read)

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#45 Post by barryconvex » Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:41 am

La Dentellière (Claude Goretta 1977)

Alright! I've been wanting to write this film up but didn't know where it would be appropriate. So, I thought this was one of Huppert's first roles but I learned after checking imdb she already had at least twenty credits to her name dating back to 1971. Aside from being impervious to the effects of aging the rest of the world has to accept, I've yet to see her in a role she couldn't handle and she's heartbreaking here as a shy provincial girl fallen from the nest before she can fly. Huppert plays Pomme, an assistant at a beauty salon in Paris where she works alongside the older and sexually experienced Marylene. Marylene is in the process of getting dumped by her married lover and to lick her wounds she retreats to the seaside bringing Pomme along as a shoulder to cry on. Once there Marylene immediately meets and shacks up with an American tourist, leaving Pomme to wander on her own.

Even at this early stage of the film I felt fiercely protective of this girl. She's only 18, lives with her mother and has probably never been kissed let alone lost her virginity. She's just not ready to be left alone like this but there she: sitting by herself and eating ice cream, wide open to the whims of the world beyond. This is when she meets Francois, a literature student from Paris. He's not much older than she is and approaches her slowly. He's probably the first boy to take an interest in her and when they're back in Paris they decide to move in together. It's quickly apparent that Francois is a pretentious twat. He has his friends over for grade school level twaddle about Marx and one day when Pomme asks him what the definition of "dialectic" is, his answer proves he has no idea what he's talking about. Pomme knows it too but doesn't dare tell him out of fear that any kind of disagreement might upset the balance of their relationship. Or maybe she's just sensitive to his feelings and doesn't want to potentially embarrass him. Of course he has no idea that her silence could be anything other than his uneducated girlfriend not grasping his superior intellectual abilities. She becomes more and more withdrawn as the relationship progresses, possibly sensing that he's looking for a girl with similar interests. When the end of their time together comes she accepts it quietly but punishes herself mentally for not being enough for him until she's so overwhelmed that she's paralyzed with heartbreak, lying immobile in the middle of the street. It's brutal to watch Pomme's entire world collapse around her and it's tempting to condemn Francois, jerk off that he is, as the bad guy. He's really just ignorant though; a victim of his own personality and not able to realize the value of what he's thrown away or its rarity. I felt sorry for him by the end and thought about my own relationships at that age. This is as good a portrait of first love as any I've seen.

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