I am velvety-smoothReview is BELOWI am veltely smooth, too
DVD: Coeurs / Private Fears in Public Places (2006)
Film:  Very Good    
DVD Transfer:  Very Good  
...back to Index
DVD Extras :  
Christal Films (Canada)
Catalog #:
...or start from scratch
1 (NTSC)

May 15, 2007



Genre: Drama  
Three sets of couples - lovers, siblings, and single parent family - go through painful moments of love, loneliness, and separation in Paris during a fluffy winter.  



Directed by:

Alain Resnais
Screenplay by: Jean-Michel Ribes
Music by: Mark Snow
Produced by: Bruno Pesery, Valerio De Paolis

Sabine Azéma, Isabelle Carré, Laura Morante, Pierre Arditi, André Dussollier, and Lambert Wilson.

Film Length: 120 mins
Process/Ratio: 2.35:1
Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages:  French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:  English
Special Features :  


Comments :

For fans of Alain Resnais (Hiroshima, Mon Amour), it’s a mini-event when this legendary director makes another film, and Coeurs (2006) is a strange but mostly satisfying tale of three couples in clunky relationships who kind of bump into each other. The presumption seems to be that anyone living within a few square kilometres of any Paris suburb will affect another life, either with a slight nudge, or perhaps with grave consequences.

Based on the play Private Fears in Public Places by Alan Ayckbourn, Resnais’ Coeurs  has a very similar feel of Robert Aldrich’s Short Cuts (1993), wherein the narrative flips between couplets of characters, and culminates in a series of mostly unresolved story threads; that’s not really a spoiler, given the emotional problems of every character can’t be wrapped up, and maybe that’s the film’s strongest point of view: while life has to continue, it does so with a great deal of hurt that may never go away.

The film begins with realty agent Thierry (André Dussollier) showing Nicole (Laura Morante) what’s supposed to be a three-bedroom apartment that has to meet the unrealistic demands of fiancé Dan (Lambert Wilson), a discharged army officer who’s fallen into a self-destructive routine of sleep, drinking, and self-loathing.

Thierry shares a flat with sister Gaëlle (Isabelle Carré), a pretty girl who leaves for nightly soirées with the girlfriends, but really waits for someone to answer her lonely hearts ad, and meet her at a local café. Dejected and lonely, she eventually meets Dan when a separation comes into play, and Nicole demands Dan move out for a while.

Dan stays at a nearby hotel, and continues his daily trips to the bar, where he discusses personal woes with bartender Lionel (Pierre Arditi), an immaculate type at work, but a guilt-ridden son at home, where he looks after an aging, ill, and horribly abusive father.

Linking all of these stories (more or less) is Charlotte (Sabine Azéma), who works in day with Thierry at the realty office, and has started to look after Lionel’s ill father while the son works the bar. She’s the lone character who’s moved on to a new life, choosing God over a raunchy past, and even when she returns to that life in a brief flash, it’s to give a character a bit of a push, while freeing another of the personal demons that have rendered his life so dull and unfulfilling.

Resnais’ approach to the play is to shorten the episodes between couples to create a flowing motion, and emphasize an omnipresent snowfall as the conveyor for the camera’s move into and out of each sequence. For the most part it works well, because the script avoids hovering too long on one couple’s problems, and one senses there’s always a major disruption at the corner.

Perhaps the film’s main problem is a very discrete balance between light comedy and melodrama, and some technical transitions and effects which emphasize we’re not really seeing more than characters in a play. Resnais periodic camera moves hover over an apartment floor, for example, with no roof, showing characters walking through rooms like some elaborate maze; the reality office is at one point filmed without a back wall; and in one scene two characters are affected by weather in an indoor scene.

Those stylistic choices are buffered by Jean-Michel Ducourty’s art direction that’s frankly one of the most beautiful in recent years. The off-white colour palette is extended to every facet of each set, and each set has been designed with its own translucent walls, whether it’s a root-like mesh, a striped glass partition, or coloured louvers that allow characters as well as viewers to eavesdrop on others – quite pivotal in the fantastic retro-seventies bar where Dan’s life reaches a crisis point.

The ‘scope cinematography by Eric Gautier (Into the Wild) is very staid, but the compositions are luxurious, and Resnais’ film really is soothing eye candy, particularly because of the snow motif that eases up between sequences. On high-def, the film would undoubtedly look stunning.

Equally important is Mark Snow’s beautiful piano theme, which helps us distinguish some of the characters, and gives us some resolution when the final reel clearly leaves several lives at major crossroads. Best-known for his work on The X-Files, Snow proves he’s very adept at character films, and while a quiet little score, it’s one of his best works.


© 2009 Mark R. Hasan

_IMDB Entry________Script Online _________Fan/Official Film site________Cast/Crew Link
_IMDB Detailed Entry_______Scripts available online ________Fan/Official Film Site__________Additional Related Sites
____Amazon.com __________Amazon.ca _________Bay Street Video_______Comparisons_
__Amazon.com info____Amazon.com info____Basy Street Video info______Compare Different Region releases_
_Soundtrack CD__________CD Review__________LP Review__________Composer Filmog.
Soundtrack Album_________Soundtrack Review_______Yes, VINYL_________Composer Filmography/Discography at Soundtrack Collector.com

Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author. Links to non-KQEK sites have been included for your convenience; KQEK is not responsible for their content nor their possible use of any pop-ups, cookies, or information gathering.