“A woman of our time” by Jean-Paul Civeyrac, a disappointing portrait



A woman of our time * by Jean-Paul Civeyrac

French film, 1 h 36

Five years since Lydia, Juliane’s younger sister died, but the pain remains intact, as on the first day. Police commissioner and author of best-selling detective novels, Juliane wants to devote her next book to her youngest. To launch her project, she asks a friend of Lydia’s to tell her about her. Her only answer is this question: Who knew Lydia? »

As the anniversary of her disappearance approaches, Juliane concentrates on her daily life: her work as a police officer, which seems to be limited to noting the murder of a colleague, known to carry out trafficking, and to regret that another obtained a transfer – which spared her a trial for violence –, her bullet or dart shooting training, her jogging in the forest around the large house where she lives with her husband, Hugo.

A woman of our time first presents itself as an atmospheric film – a wintry atmosphere with its bare forests and leaden skies. A cold film like its heroine who seems frozen, even when the evidence that Hugo is cheating on her piles up. When Juliane ends up going to their Parisian apartment where in all likelihood he finds his lover, she hides when they arrive in the bathroom. In the next room, she listens to their antics, shaken with sobs, unable to intervene.

Blunt gameplay and flat dialogues

On leaving the film, the intention of Jean-Paul Civeyrac, the director of My provincials, escape. He indicates that he wanted to enter the “tipping point, and ultimately, access to a deeper inner truth, which can lead to new growth”but this does not come out of the perplexity in which his film plunges.

When Juliane finally seems to take back the reins of her life, violence pours out against and through her in a chain of circumstances that slides towards the absurd, even the grotesque, from which no one draws their pin – not Sophie Marceau, stuck in a monolithic game , his face closed without nuances, nor Johan Heldenbergh, as a deceptively good-natured husband. The story of another couple fits into theirs without letting anyone guess the reason.

The flatness of the dialogues despite their rarity, the strong lyricism of the staging and the omnipresence of the violins, constantly redundant with what the image shows (discomfort, tension, violence, etc.), complete the exhaustion of the spectator who will have sought in vain for depth and meaning in this overly tenuous plot.

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