Saw it again for the 2nd time, this time on a (german) DVD.
Unfortunately I must say that the image seemed to lose a lot of its depth and plasticity in the transfer. It seemed more like something made for TV, and also the nuanced lighting didn't really come through. Maybe this has to do with the fine and grainy film-material itself that wasn't adequately captured on this digital medium. The divorce at the beginning that seemed to me reminiscent of Bergman, through camera and lighting, was nowhere as stark and high-contrast as I recalled to remember it.
But back to the film itself.
The structure that was surprising when seen for the first time, obviously didn't work as well in a re-viewing. But because I knew what was coming, I could concentrate more on the unspoken intricacies between the two protagonists. Sometimes startled at first, too mch seemed obvious to me this time. Maybe I have by now broadened my own experiences to an extent that the behaviour of the couple seemed more "normal" - as weird as this term might seem in reference to their cowardly and self-destructive behaviour. What we have is an ordinary middle-class couple, introverted an not really aware of their own needs and desires. Throughout their relationship they will, explore themselves more and more, a task they have obviously never learned in their previous lives. The woman is - like many times in Ozon films - the stronger and the smarter one, walking away at the end with a new sense of her position in life. Her ex-husband it seems hasn't learned as much, and is in the course of repeating the same mistake again. And probably for the umptenth time. His previous relationship, which is presented to us briefly at the end of the film, hasn't worked out for similar reasons. The film is not as distant and observing as it had seemed to me, in fact Ozon quite often tries to pull us into it through plot-devices and camera and editing techniques that are at times quite conventional. And the hopelessness of the situation is only due to a restricted frame of mind, experiences that haven't been gathered, and the immaturity of the leads.
At one point we see Marion (the female lead, played by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) having a sexual encounter with a stranger in her wedding night. We see how she wonders, if she really loves her husband, if she can do without touching another man again, and probing these questions through this opportunity. The next morning, she runs back to her husband, afraid of the consequences of her deed, only to find him sleeping in bed. She embraces him and continuosuly whispers "I love you" into his ear. A confirmation, as much to herself as to him, but why exactly she hadn't been so sure of herself before, can be witnessed in other scenes. In one, the husband is afraid to be present at the birth of his child, at another he shows how little he knows his wife, when he retells a sexual encounter he had on a party, while his wife was present. At first glance both seem to fit quite well together, but they now so little about themsleves and the other that they constantly miss each other - physically and emotionally. The end was already planted in the beginning, but as is the case with most couples, shortcomings and conflicts are ingored until it is too late.
Ozon discusses again his favorite topics, though without the bite and satire obvious in his strongest works. Here he displays more his humanist side, making us understand and "forgive" both parts more or less equally. Maybe he was trying to sort out some of his own past relationships. He succeeds, though he doesn't really seem to be too much involved with the topics presented anymore.
In the end still a fine film about the disintegration of a couple that is still in search of themselves and the meaning of love. The end is nevertheless positive, because a fulfillment might be closer to grasp than before. And it seems that at least the female protagonist won't make the same mistakes in the future. A necessary move onwards for the protagonist as well as the viewer, who might have learned a lesson or two about himself after watching this film.
personal rating: 68 out of 100