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"Unforgivable": How the French Romanticize Antiromanticism 

Wednesday, Aug 8 2012

André Téchiné's epic neo-family drama depicts offenses — attempted murder, mid-funeral beat downs, sex videos for Daddy — that no relation should have to countenance. Alain Resnais mainstay André Dussollier plays Francis, a bestselling mystery writer who travels to Venice for a retreat that becomes permanent when he swiftly seduces and marries Judith (onetime Bond girl Carole Bouquet), a real estate agent who's still model perfect in her fifties. When Francis's grown daughter vanishes with a preppie pusher ("He's not a criminal,"Judith insists. "He's a ruined aristocrat doing shady deals"), he hires a washed-up P.I. (Adriana Asti) to find her. Barely writing and increasingly paranoid, he recruits the P.I.'s emotionally unstable ex-con son (Mauro Conte) to trail his own wife, a sloppy overstep that either backfires or succeeds brilliantly, depending on Francis's true intentions. Téchiné piles a staggering amount of incident into 111 minutes, ever pushing the narrative forward and never letting scenes dawdle. The narrative is powered on pure momentum, gallows humor, and slyly ambiguous misanthropy. It's some kind of monster of romanticized antiromanticism, filleting and exalting its characters, cheating and rewarding its breathless audience. The closest the film gets to a thesis is this shoulder-shrug: "People do things like that without knowing why."

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Eric Hynes


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