Posted On Saturday, September 08, 2012 at 08:16:35 AM
The film’s title is a beautiful, gentle oxymoron like the slow, quiet film which is rivetting from the very first scene.
Clocking a ticking suspense every second, we see the heeled feet of a woman walking down the road, entering a stone building, taking the elevator, walking down the corridor and ringing at a door which opens to...
The mystery palpitates so strong that you either expect her to be murdered any moment or that she witnesses one. You are yanked roughly to the mundane and the clamouring tension immediately fizzles out.
The lady Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) has come to meet her psychiatrist for the first time and nervously starts blurting out the problem which is gnawing her. The man looks stunned but listens her out.
She thanks him and hurriedly leaves but not before making an appointment for next week not knowing that the man she assumed to be her psychiatrist is a shy, introverted tax lawyer William (Fabrice Luchini).
And thus starts a series of analysis sessions and the appointments go on, with the lonely tax lawyer getting slowly fascinated by the beautiful Anna.
And when he manages to gather his courage and wit to confess that he is not a psychiatrist, she coolly replies that she had discovered the truth earlier and saying that, she continues with the weekly consultations.
William realises he is a good auteur as being a tax lawyer, his clients often reveal all the intimate details of their lives “divorces, deaths — they all have tax implications!” he remarks with his quiet wit. But this client is movingly different as she reveals more of herself at each session.
But the sharp finance man that he is, William soon starts wondering if what she is telling is the whole truth... The film is slow yet rivetting like the quiet game Anna and William are playing as each tries to exfoliate the layers of each other. While Anna is inscrutable, the film is ultimately about William, the tax lawyer.
Everything in the film is seen from his point of view and the others are a character in his personal story. We do get to see things he does not know making the sense of mystery even stronger.
Sandrine Bonnaire as the mysterious, beautiful Anna is mesmerising. But it is Fabrice Luchini as the efficient, reticent man who lives alone in his inherited sixth-floor Paris apartment (from his father, also a tax lawyer) who is simply outstanding.
Living his dull, routine life of working in his office-cum-living room, making his own meals and playing with his mechanical toys, he cuts a starkly lonely, moving figure.
Yet there is a quiet dignity about him that does not make us feel sorry or pity him. French director Patrice Leconte is known for his films dealing with people who otherwise would have never met and their resulting deep relationships.
In this film too, again he is more interested in how different people interact in different or unusual situations. And what they say to one another. This slow, gentle movie, blending suspense and sentimentality, is essentially a dialogue driven film that thrills through carefully selected words and actions courtesy Jérôme Tonnerre’s screenplay.
The characters deliberately reveal and hold back information, thus building a taut tension yet never ratcheting into a fervid tempo. The soft yet haunting score have elements of Hitchcockian suspense and the dark tenor of a film noir, quite unlike its extremely satisfying conclusion.