Review: ‘The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas’

A very literary two-hander involving the intersections of two strangers' related great loves, "The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas" is the first feature by Michelle Porte. Pic wobbles between earnest and stodgy as it relates a long afternoon during which an old man's serenity is assaulted by a woman's revelations of romantic secrets.

A very literary two-hander involving the intersections of two strangers’ related great loves, “The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas” represents a footnote in the cinematic career of the late Marguerite Duras. First feature by documaker and longtime Duras assistant Michelle Porte wobbles on the fine line between earnest and stodgy as it relates a long afternoon during which an old man’s serenity is assaulted by a woman’s persistent revelations of romantic secrets. Highbrow Euro tube slots are the natural home for this dry dissection of passionate matters.

Michel Bouquet is in strong form as the title character, an old gent who goes for an appointment to the remote mountaintop home he’s bought for his beloved daughter Valerie. First, the expected man’s daughter turns up to say he’ll be late, then his wife (Miou-Miou) arrives to repeat the message. Latter sticks around, however, to grimly inform Andesmas about what’s going on between his daughter and her own husband. Plainly photographed in lush southern French countryside, pic is dominated by dialogue as windy as the stiff breezes that blow through the trees and forbids any feeling to seep through its intellectual armor.

The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas

France

Production

An MK2 release of a Marin Karmitz & YMC production. (International sales: MK2 Intl., Paris.) Produced by Karmitz. Executive producer, Yvon Crenn. Executive producer for MK2, Nathalie Kreuther. Directed, written by Michelle Porte, based on the novel by Marguerite Duras.

Crew

Camera (color), Dominique Le Rigoleur; editor, Colette Culbert; music, Carlos D'Alessio; set decorator, Loula Morin. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Critics Week -- opening film), May 13, 2004. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Michel Bouquet, Miou-Miou, Paloma Veinstein, Anne Isserman.
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