Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

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Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

Postby trevor826 » Thu Aug 16, 2007 8:55 am

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.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 12a

Distributed by Artificial Eye.

Re: Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:48 am

"The move to Paris and minor changes add warmth to the overall tone, just try to forget that it is an Alain Resnais film."


Besides Private Fears, of course, which previous Resnais film, chronologically speaking, have you seen?

Re: Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

Postby wpqx » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:52 am

I missed this film at the European Cinema festival, at the Music Box premiere, but its on DVD, so come hell or high water I'll get to it. I need to work on some Resnais, and wouldn't mind revisiting a few films of his I've already seen, particularly Muriel and Le Guerre Est Fine.

Re: Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

Postby trevor826 » Fri Aug 17, 2007 6:10 am

I found the film enjoyable, more so than I expected but I was thinking back to A's comment,

You also might enjoy Resnais' Coeurs. I saw it a couple of days ago and it was the first of his films I disliked, and didn't enjoy over the whole running-time. I thought it wasn't artificial enough and fairly conventional. But most people are quite enthusiastic about it.

It is fairly conventional but that's purely down to Resnais interpreting and respecting Ayckbourn's original play, that's why I'd say try to forget that it is an Alain Resnais film and just enjoy it for what it is.

Last film chronologically was Mon oncle d'Amrique (1980), though to be honest, I can't remember much about it.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

Postby R6dw6C » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:49 pm

Amazing that you liked the film so much, trevor!

I watched it together with A at a local cinema (Fortunately, the output of french films by german distributers is very large) and also liked it. I was amused by it, but a bit disappointed because I was ONLY amused, not more.

But now, a few months later, it seems like a really big disappointment to me. Almost as just another french "RomCom" like they were released in masses, more than before after the huge success of "Le Fabuleux destin d'Amlie Poulain". And I'm not convinced that it is the kind of film that grows after the second viewing. Not to mention the fact that Resnais has done some breathtaking masterpieces in the past.

6 out of 10.

Re: Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

Postby hengcs » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:15 am

I watched but I guessed I was toooooooooooo tired.
I felt asleep after 20 min or so.
I guess I will rewatch it.

Re: Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

Postby trevor826 » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:58 am

I'm sure that Private Fears in Public Places will not make my top 10 for the year but it is the best of the few French light comedy dramas I've seen this year.

It seemed like a huge step down for Resnais but as previously mentioned, he is a big fan of Alan Ayckbourn's plays and as such, this is a good translation with a touch of Gallic warmth. I have to wonder what the general populace of France thought of it though as it still has a very British feel, particularly to the sometimes acerbic nature of the humour.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

Postby hengcs » Sat Aug 18, 2007 8:21 am

The film won the Best Director at Venice Film Festival 2006.

In case anyone should misconstrue my post as ... the beginning was boring. Nope, it wasnt. My intention in posting was simply to inform that: I was VERY keen on this film. And so i wanted to watch it (you could tell that I am procrastinating on other films). But I was VERY tired ... So, I am DEFINITELY going to watch it again.

PS: it is so rare that many of us happen to watch a recent film ... i.e., with all of us being located at different parts of the world ... cf. other posts, usually only 1 or 2 of us manage to catch it ...

Re: Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy)

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:42 pm

That's pretty much what I gathered from your comments, Trevor; I didn't think that you liked it a lot (though a tad more than Orchestra Seats, I presume).

If the likes of Mlo, Smoking/No Smoking, Not on the Lips, etc, were available in your neck of the woods and/or you had seen them, then you probably wouldn't have been as surprised with Private Fears as you appear to be (though I must say that I've yet to see the film, but from what I've read it follows in a similar vein). When compared to, say, a Rivette or a Chabrol, Resnais' career has been slightly more varied. Coeurs was a critical and box office success. And, as I briefly mentioned earlier in the U.S. DVD thread, Muriel is now available.

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