×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How I Got Into an Argument

Desplechin continues his exploration of love and morbidity, last displayed in his 1992 Cannes entry "La Sentinelle," with this study of the unbearable heaviness of dating and academia. Clearly comfortable with his large and talented cast, the young helmer here reveals himself to be a thesp's dream. Shots linger lovingly on faces, and already long scenes are fully played out. The perfs he gets in return are uniformly first-rate.

With:
Paul ... Mathieu Amalric Esther ... Emmanuelle Devos Nathan ... Emmanuel Salinger Sylvia ... Marianne Denicourt Bob ... Thibault de Montalambert Patricia ... Chiara Mastroianni Jean-Jacques ... Denis Podalydes Valerie ... Jeanne Balibar Ivan ... Fabrice Desplechin Grouper ... Helene Lapiower Frederic Rabier ... Michel Vuillermoz Chernov ... Roland Amstutz Relentless in its flow of words and plumes of cigarette smoke, Arnaud Desplechin's "How I Got Into an Argument" is a monument to the self-imposed unhappiness of a group of intellectuals in contemporary Paris. A showcase for a closely knit clique of thirtysomething French thesps, pic will thrill Gallic film insiders with its loquacious brilliance and sparkling flashes of wit but leave most audiences perplexed over its inordinate length. Arthouse appreciation is guaranteed.

Desplechin continues his exploration of love and morbidity, last displayed in his 1992 Cannes entry “La Sentinelle,” with this study of the unbearable heaviness of dating and academia. Clearly comfortable with his large and talented cast, the young helmer here reveals himself to be a thesp’s dream. Shots linger lovingly on faces, and already long scenes are fully played out. The perfs he gets in return are uniformly first-rate.

Paul (Mathieu Amalric) is a chain-smoking grad student and teacher with an eternally unfinished dissertation and a deliberately complex emotional life. He dumps Esther (Emmanuelle Devos), his girlfriend of 10 years, and takes up with violently neurotic Valerie (Jeanne Balibar), a sensual space case living with another man. The garrulous, agoraphobic Paul effects this switch to forget the lovely Sylvia (Marianne Denicourt), the girlfriend of a fellow grad student. Even after all his traumatic couplings and breakups, it is the memory of a brief affair with Sylvia that torments him the most.

As Paul’s plight worsens, the emotional destinies of his equally self-analytical band of friends

and enemies become intermingled and, inevitably, conflicting. Endless conversations swirl around motives, dreams and desires as all concerned prefer talking to living. In pic’s only truly comic predicament, Paul’s good friend Ivan (Fabrice Desplechin) decides to become a priest even though he remains attached to the pleasures of the flesh. Professorial rivalry and the French tendency to lionize intellectuals are also sent up in the character of Frederic Rabier (Michel Vuillermoz), a hip epistemologist given to walking the halls of academe with a pet monkey in tow.

A sometimes arch look at the dilemmas of the overeducated, pic nonetheless shows unexpected compassion for the heartbreak and loneliness of Esther (Paul dumps her by saying, “It’s not my fault. It’s universal.”). Actress Devos takes this lengthy talkfest and injects it with genuine, non-intellectualized emotion that catches the heart. As the brilliantly glib Paul, Amalric strides confidently through the thicket of articulate neuroses that Desplechin and co-scripter Emmanuel Bourdieu have fashioned for him.

Tech credits are accomplished in this marathon of distraught monologues, especially Eric Gautier’s unerringly intimate lensing, which combines with first-rate sound work by Laurent Poirier to create a tremendously vivid, fluid feel throughout. Delightful if undisciplined, Desplechin’s treatment of the unalterable strangeness of hetero relationships would have been better served, and been accessible to a wider audience, had there been a sterner hand in the cutting room. However, that criticism, like everything else in the pic, is open to discussion.

How I Got Into an Argument

(Comment Je Me Suis Dispute) (Comment Je Me Suis Dispute ... RMa vie Sexuelle S) (French -- Drama -- Color)

Production: A Why Not release (in France) of a Why Not, La Sept Cinema, France 2 Cinema co-production, with the participation of Canal Plus and CNC. (International sales: Flach Pyramide Intl., Paris.) Produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Gregoire Sorlet. Directed by Arnaud Desplechin. Screenplay, Desplechin, Emmanuel Bourdieu.

Crew: Camera (color), Eric Gautier; editors, Francois Gedigier, Laurence Briaud; music, Krishna Levy; production design, Antoine Platteau; costume design, Claire Gerard-Hirne, Delphine Hayat; sound (Dolby), Laurent Poirier; casting, Claude Martin, Stephane Batut, Jeanne Biras. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (competing), May 11, 1996. Running time: 178 min.

With: Paul ... Mathieu Amalric Esther ... Emmanuelle Devos Nathan ... Emmanuel Salinger Sylvia ... Marianne Denicourt Bob ... Thibault de Montalambert Patricia ... Chiara Mastroianni Jean-Jacques ... Denis Podalydes Valerie ... Jeanne Balibar Ivan ... Fabrice Desplechin Grouper ... Helene Lapiower Frederic Rabier ... Michel Vuillermoz Chernov ... Roland Amstutz Relentless in its flow of words and plumes of cigarette smoke, Arnaud Desplechin's "How I Got Into an Argument" is a monument to the self-imposed unhappiness of a group of intellectuals in contemporary Paris. A showcase for a closely knit clique of thirtysomething French thesps, pic will thrill Gallic film insiders with its loquacious brilliance and sparkling flashes of wit but leave most audiences perplexed over its inordinate length. Arthouse appreciation is guaranteed.

More Film

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Why Airbnb Produced Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South,' Its First-Ever Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    The latest player to hit the film-festival circuit may be a bit unexpected: Airbnb, the travel-accommodations booking marketplace, developed, financed and produced documentary film “Gay Chorus Deep South,” set to premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 29. It’s the company’s very first feature film. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues, “Gay Chorus Deep [...]

  • Clint Eastwood May Direct 'The Ballad

    Clint Eastwood May Direct 'The Ballad of Richard Jewell'

    Clint Eastwood may direct “The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” a look at a security guard whose life gets turned upside down after media reports identified him as a possible suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. The film is currently set up at Disney/Fox and could reunite Eastwood with Alan Horn, the current Disney Studios [...]

  • Hagazussa: A Heathen's Curse

    Film Review: 'Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse'

    If “The Witch” had been directed by the early-career Werner Herzog of “Aguirre,” “Heart of Glass,” and “Even Dwarfs Started Small,” the result might have been something in the spirit of “Hagazussa,” Lukas Feigelfeld’s wholly arresting feature debut. Given the extended U.S. title “A Heathen’s Curse” to underline saleable supernatural elements, this enigmatic folktale-cum-horror is [...]

  • Alex Ross Perry

    Alex Ross Perry to Write and Direct Stephen King's 'Rest Stop' for Legendary

    Alex Ross Perry will write and direct Legendary’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “Rest Stop.” King’s short, first published in Esquire magazine in 2003, won the national magazine award for fiction in 2004, and was later included in King’s 2008 collection, “Just After Sunset.” The movie is described as a propulsive cat-and-mouse thriller [...]

  • Hobbs & Shaw trailer

    'Hobbs & Shaw' New Trailer Touts More High-Intensity Fights

    A new “Hobbs & Shaw” trailer packs in the international action with fast cars and high-intensity fight scenes.  When the first trailer dropped in February, viewers were introduced to the genetically-enhanced villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, as well as a newly cordial relationship between old enemies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason [...]

  • ralph Fiennes WHITE CROW Directing BTS

    Ralph Fiennes Examines Rudolf Nureyev's Complicated Life in 'The White Crow'

    The story of “The White Crow,” Ralph Fiennes’ latest directorial effort, is as topical as anything currently sitting on the desk of a studio head. It tells of a rebellious artist grappling with his sexuality during turbulent political times rife with tensions between the United States and an agitated Russia.  But though the upcoming film, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content