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Mademoiselle Chambon (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

November 19, 2010 by  



“Mademoiselle Chambon” is a film that rides the fine line of a love story.  A bittersweet taste of love that is reminiscent of classic French films ala Rohmer and Varda.  And a film that is wonderfully crafted. “Mademoiselle Chambon” is definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © TS Productions, F comme Film, ARTE France Cinema 2009. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Mademoiselle Chambon

YEAR OF FILM RELEASE: 2009

DURATION: 101 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, Anamorphic (2:35:1), French with optional English subtitles

COMPANY: Lorber Films/KINO LORBER

RATED: N/A (Film contains language which may not be suitable for all audiences. Not rated)

RELEASE DATE: October 26, 2010

Based on the novel by Eric Holder

Directed by Stéphane Brizé

Scenario by Stephane Brize and Florence Vignon

Produced by Milena Poylo, Gilles Sacuto

Co-Produced by Jean-Louis Livi

Assistant Producer: Amelie Melkonian

Music by Ange Ghinozzi

Cinematography by Antoine Heberle

Edited by Anne Klotz

Casting by Coralie Amedeo, Brigitte Moidon

Costume Design by Ann Dunsford

Starring:

Vincent Lindon as Jean

Sandrine Kiberlain as Veronique Chambon

Aure Atika as Anne-Marie

Jean-Marc Thibault – Le pere de Jean

Arthur Le Houerou as Jeremy

A love story that has bewitched audiences and critics worldwide, Mademoiselle Chambon is an “exquisite chamber piece” (LA Times) that delicately captures the initial stirrings of romance.

Vincent Lindon plays Jean, a burly and happily married housing contractor. One fateful afternoon, he picks up his son (Arthur Le Houérou) from school and meets the teacher, a willowy beauty named Mademoiselle Chambon (Sandrine Kiberlain). Their flirtation slowly builds over lingering glances and an impromptu violin solo in Chambon’s apartment. Like the classical music they swoon over, their relationship builds through subtle movements: the tilt of a head, or an inadvertent brush of the cheek, fills their hearts with longing. Jean soon comes to a crossroads, having to choose between the intensity of his bond with Chambon or the responsibility and care he feels for his wife (Aure Atika) and child.

A “beautifully observed” (NY Magazine) evocation of what it feels like to fall dizzyingly in love, Mademoiselle Chambon won the Cesar (the French Oscar) for best Adapted Screenplay, and is an unqualified triumph for director Stéphane Brizé.

Filmmaker Stéphane Brizé has had success with his previous films “Not Here to be Loved” (Je ne suis pas la pour etre aime, 2005), “Hometown Blue” (Le blue des villes, 1999) and most recently with his 2009 film “Mademoiselle Chambon”.

“Mademoiselle Chambon” is based on Eric Holder’s novel of the same title.  Upon reading it and creating the adaptation, Brizé knew he was going to be unfaithful to the book.  Where the original novel focused on the female character Veronique Chambon, the film would be different in that it would come from the perspective of the male character, in this film, Jean.

When author Eric Holder read the screenplay adaptation, he wrote back that the screenplay was not an adaptation but it was true to the emotions of the novel and gave his blessing.  So, for those who are familiar with Holder’s novel, the film “Mademoiselle Chambon” maintains the emotional feel of the novel but is entirely different from the novel.

The film opened in France in October 2009 and was a winner of a Cesar Award for “Best Adapted Screenplay”.

“Mademoiselle Chambon” is about a man named Jean (played by Vincent Lindon), a father and husband who works as a builder for a construction company. Jean is a quiet man.  A man who just does his job, takes care of his wife and son and also visits and helps his elder father out with changing his clothes and cleaning him up.

One day, his wife Anne-Marie (played by Aure Atika) gets injured on the job and hurts her back, so Jean must pick up his son Jeremy (played by Artur Le Houerou) from school.

Because he’s sometimes stuck at work, he is often late in picking up Jeremy but fortunately his teacher Veronique Chambon  (played by Sandrine Kiberlain) is a kind teacher and stays in class late with Jeremy until his father comes to school to pick him up.  One day, she asks his father if he can participate in class for a section in which a parent talks to the children in class about his job and Jean tells Mademoiselle Chambon that he will do it.

So, Jean talks about how he is a builder and makes houses which makes all the children asking questions about his job and after class, Veronique tries to get advice from Jean about her window and why there is a draft coming through it.  So, Jean volunteers to check it out and see what the problem is.

Jean drives Veronique home to check out the window and tells her its been rotted but if she needs his service, he can replace the window.  So, he ends up going back to her home and replacing the window.  We get to see a little bit about Veronique at home.  Like Jean, she’s very quiet but also has a passion for classical music.  In fact, she plays the violin.

Jean finishes the window repair but when he goes to look for Veronique, she is sleeping on the bed and he watches her sleep and then looks at her legs.  He decides to wait until she wakes up and looks around her house and reads a book on music.  When Veronique wakes up, she is happy about the window and Jean has a request, if she can play the violin for him.

We learn that Veronique hasn’t played the violin in front of everyone and at first says no.  But Jean asks her that he can watch her with her back turned towards him and being shy as she is, she does.  And he listens to the music, fascinated by it but even more, starting to find himself fascinated towards Veronique.

Several days later, Jean spots Veronique walking towards a local store to pick up some paint for her windows.  At first the two greet each other but he finds himself going to her and driving her home so he can talk to her about the music.  She tells him that she can borrow some of her music CD’s with that song she played for him.  And when she goes to play the song, he listens and we see amazing sexual tension between the two quiet individuals.  And eventually Jean grabs her hand and the two share a kiss.

From that moment on, Jean is conflicted.  He has a wife and son but also knowing his wife is pregnant with their second child.  But the same time, he feels that he has fallen in love with Mademoiselle Chambon, as Veronique has also fallen in love with him.

Will Jean choose to be with Mademoiselle Chambon or will he stay with his wife and child?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

Mademoiselle Chambon” is presented in anamorphic (2:35:1) widescreen.  Picture quality for the DVD was very good, I noticed maybe a few dust show up once in awhile but maybe twice and that was it.  But this is a beautiful film and the cinematography by Antoine Héberlé really captures the country region in this city of France quite nicely.

Audio is presented in French with optional English subtitles.   Dialogue is clear and for the most part, the film is front and center channel driven, there are times where crowd ambiance (school and a department store) can be heard on the surround channels but this is a dialogue-driven film.

It’s important to mention that the film is also coming out on Blu-ray and if you want the best video quality and audio quality, I recommend getting the Blu-ray version over the DVD.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mademoiselle Chambon”comes with the following special features:

  • Stéphane Brizé  Interview – (31:30) Filmmaker Stéphane Brizé is interviewed by Film Scholar Stephane Goudet about the film, about creating a film that was unfaithful to the novel and how the author responded when he read the screenplay.  Brizé talks about what he wanted to accomplish with the film, working with the various talent and more.
  • Deleted Scenes Introduced by Film Scholar Stéphane Goudet – (11:40) Because it is very difficult for Brizé to cut scenes from his film (and sometimes maybe even regretting it), unlike others who present their deleted scenes chronologically, Brizé arranges them like a short film by having them played not in chronological order.  Goudet explains this in the introduction.
  • Trailers – Theatrical trailers for “Mademoiselle Chambon”, “Home”, “La France” and “The Piano Teacher”.
  • Stills – Using your remote, you can view the various stills from the “Mademoiselle Chambon”.

Stéphane Brizé’s “Mademoiselle Chambon” is a minimalistic film that manages to capture the emotions of love and pain of not having to attain that love with efficacy.

A film that doesn’t need so much dialogue but just playing off emotion, sexual tension, “Mademoiselle Chambon” is arbitrary, real and not too “in-your-face”.  We know that Jean is walking a fine line and know that there are moral implications if he continues walking that fine line.  But at the same time, its easy to see that he has found a woman that captured his soul, unattainable because he is married, he has children, he has a baby coming.  Will this man risk it all?

An emotional conundrum that is reminiscent of Rohmer’s “Six Moral Tales” but in this case, going a step further as Jean acts on emotion and impulse.

A delightful film that is fascinating, endearing and enjoyable, there are a few things that came to mind after watching it on DVD.  For one, knowing that director Stéphane Brizé  was unfaithful to the novel (yes getting the blessing of the original author because the screenplay captured the emotion of the film), as this is much more of a Jean film than a Veronique Chambon film, it would have been nice to see what goes in the mind of Veronique.

For Jean, we can see him as the typical family man, hardworking and perhaps his life has become too much of the same every day and every night.  But for Veronique, you are left wondering why this talented violinist had become a school teacher, why does she keep moving away?  Is she running away from her family?  Someone?  There is a mysterious aura around her character and as the novel does feature her side, the film version in someway makes you feel sympathetic for her.  Both she and Jean are rather quiet, no dialogue needed to show their emotions towards each other and I felt this was capture quite well in the film.

It’s also important to note that the deleted scenes in which Stéphane Brizé cut out, were quite interesting as it featured more on Jean’s wife and her suspecting of her husband.   But by having these scenes, it many ways, “Mademoiselle Chambon” would have been to cliche of showing the spurned wife.  And so, I credit Brizé for focusing on the two characters that matter the most.  It works!

Overall, “Mademoiselle Chambon” is a film that rides the fine line of a love story.  A bittersweet taste of love that is reminiscent of classic French films ala Rohmer and Varda (but not as verbose).  And a film that is wonderfully crafted.

“Mademoiselle Chambon” is definitely recommended!


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