STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Stéphane Brizé | CAST: Aure Atika, Sandrine Kiberlain, Vincent Lindon
RELEASE DATE: 12/7/10 | PRICE: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $34.95
BONUSES: director’s interview, deleted scenes, with introduction by film critic Stephane Goudet
SPECS: NR | 108 min. | Foreign language romance | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | French with English subtitles
The French have a genius for colorfully depicting the mundane. In romance movie Mademoiselle Chambon, Stéphane Brizé takes a page from Gustave Flaubert’s masterpiece Madame Bovary (another study of provincial adultery), which presents an accumulation of subtle, varying details so readers experience the heroine’s boredom without becoming bored themselves. In Brizé’s Chambon, a mother helps her son with grammar, then later with math, then they play cards; it’s nothing overwhelming, but the total effect is of domestic solidity that could only be altered by a seismic shift.
The drama is in a gesture, a glance. In one crucial scene, schoolteacher Veronique Chambon (Sandrine Kiberlain, Alias Betty) invites a student’s father, Jean (Vincent Lindon, Could This Be Love?), to address the class on Career Day about his work as a housing contractor. His genuine satisfaction in building homes enthuses the class, he responds to their enthusiasm, and Veronique starts to fall in love with the man, who slowly begins to be lured by her charms, his wife (Aure Atika, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) and family notwithstanding.
Cinematographer Antoine Héberlé’s beautifully composed pictures capture the safety and constriction of a lie in a small town, ditto for Eric Pierard’s carefully subdued art and set design in the film.
Mademoiselle Chambon is not for the high-octane aficionado, but if subdued foreign-language movies with poignancy are your cup of tea, steep away.
Among the DVD’s special features are an informative interview with writer/director Brizé, who quietly details his initial ideas when developing the project and how they translated onto the screen.
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