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“Lover For a Day”: Garrel at the Peak of his Art

After Jealousy and In the Shadow of Women, French filmmaker Philippe Garrel is back with a new work on the vagaries of love and desire, in U.S. theaters on January 12.

Pleasure and pain. A student rushes down the steps at her university to meet her lover, while another is thrown out by her boyfriend and collapses in tears on the sidewalk. The first, Ariane, is in relationship with her philosophy professor and lives in his apartment. The second, Jeanne, is his daughter. Both are 23 years old. Shaken by her break-up, Jeanne goes back to live with her father, and discovers his partner who is the same age as her. A strange arrangement slowly forms as the two women get to know and understand one another. Jeanne is a romantic, while Ariane is a female Don Juan, but despite their differences they share a desire to live their love affairs as intensely as possible. Each embodies, in their own way, a concept of contemporary youth.

Philippe Garrel has reignited the sentiments he has explored throughout his career, although this time with the addition of female friendship. The director has never before focused so meticulously on this theme, which here offers an opposite view on the essentially ordinary male-female relationships found in his other movies. In this latest work, the male character is pushed to the background to leave the women centerstage.

This film showcases the full talent and Nouvelle Vague influences of a director who has successfully built an original, demanding body of work over the years. Audiences can expect his razor-sharp dialogues (co-written with Jean-Claude Carrière and Annette Langmann), his sense of observation, the purity of his frames, and his most particular manner of blending fiction and real life. The two leading actresses (his own daughter, Esther Garrel, and Louise Chevillotte in her first film) don’t miss a beat, and the black-and-white Cinemascope image by Renato Berta also make the overall production a success. With this latest offering, Garrel is at the peak of his art.

Article published in the January 2018 issue of France-Amérique.

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