Private Fears in Public Places - Coeurs (2006)
Directed by Alain Resnais
Starring Sabine Azma, Lambert Wilson
Alain Resnais, as soon as I hear the name my mind automatically springs to classic titles such as Last Year at Marienbad, Hiroshima Mon Amour and Night and Fog. Recent films such as Not on the Lips havent even received a theatrical or dvd release in the UK so it was a little trepidation that I decided to see his latest output, Private Fears in Public Places.
Those expecting anything like the classic titles listed will be sorely disappointed, this is not the Resnais of the 50s or 60s, in fact you would be pushed to tie anything in with the directors earlier period. But as the saying goes to be forwarned is to be forearmed and luckily I was.
For many years, Alain Resnais has been taking short breaks in the north of England, to be precise, in Scarborough. Why! you may well wonder when he could probably jet off anywhere in the world? He is a big fan of the plays of Alan Ayckbourn and regularly makes the trip to Yorkshire to see them performed by Ayckbourns theatre company.
Private Fears in Public Places is actually the second adaptation of an Ayckbourn play, the first Intimate Exchanges became the 2 part Smoking/No Smoking (1993). Thus although I havent seen Smoking/No Smoking I knew that in most respects this film would be a fairly direct translation of the play.
So to the film itself, 6 characters lives are intertwined in their comings and goings in Paris, fear is the key, and for the main part its the fear of being alone. There are other fears including that of commitment and guilt, fears that show through the public and private facades of each of these individuals.
Through the many scenes the viewer is given snatches of conversation, some truth and some lies though at times (as in real life) its difficult to discern one from the other as characters connect/disconnect.
One person seems to float above all this, Charlotte, played by Resnais wife Sabine Azma works in an estate agents in the daytime and as a carer in the night. A devout Christian, shes the type who never gives up but even here, there is a hidden wicked side that comes out towards the finale of the story.
Each separate small scene is interconnected by falling snow which is the only thing that gives an air of the unreal, several of the settings have an almost stage feel but everything fits together very well. All the performances are very good though it did bother me that the age gap between the actors who played the brother and sister made them look more like father and daughter.
Humorous and serious by turn, this is a warming adaptation of Ayckbourns play, well edited and paced, it's an enjoyable drama with fine performances. The move to Paris and minor changes add warmth to the overall tone, just try to forget that it is an Alain Resnais film.
BBFC rated 12a
Distributed by Artificial Eye.