France, 1972, 107 min, Dir. Claude Sautet, Unrated but not suitable for children, French with English subtitles, Film Movement
"A fluky, wry ode on the imperfect, haphazard nature of romantic love." – Pauline Kael, The New Yorker
The divorced Rosalie is attending a family wedding with new lover César (Yves Montand), a wealthy scrap metal merchant, when she encounters ex-boyfriend David (Sami Frey), a cartoonist newly back from America. At the reception, David tells César that he still loves Rosalie, and César can see that the feeling isn't entirely one-sided. Thus begins Sautet's magnificent ménage-à-trois César and Rosalie, in which these two very different men compete for the fickle affections of their impulsive lady love, only to slowly form their own grudging friendship. Montand is simply extraordinary as the cigar-chomping César, a self-made man accustomed to getting his way. And Schneider, in the third of her Sautet collaborations, was never more enigmatically beautiful. The tone of the film is melodrama perched on the brink of farce, a tightrope Sautet navigates with astonishing ease. The obvious comparison is to Truffaut's Jules and Jim, though as the decades pass, César and Rosalie may seem the even greater achievement. Look fast for the teenage Isabelle Huppert, in one of her first screen appearances, as Schneider's precocious younger sister.
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