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France, 1963
Directed by Alain Resnais
Starring Delphine Seyrig, Jean-Pierre Kérien, Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée, Nita Klein
Screenplay by Jean Cayrol
DCP. Approx 115 min. In French with English subtitles.

“Resnais dramatizes France’s efforts to conceal the physical and moral damage of the Second World War and the Algerian War (which had just ended). The glacially smooth Delphine Seyrig plays Hélène, a middle-aged furniture dealer in Boulogne-sur-Mer, who meets an old flame, Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Kérien), after decades apart. Bearing war stories and bad memories of Algeria, he clashes with her stepson, Bernard (Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée), who has recently returned from military service there. Having witnessed torture practiced by the French Army, Bernard is collecting film and audiotape to document the coverup, in which his friend Robert (Philippe Laudenbach) is implicated. The script, by Jean Cayrol, spins a paranoid web of surprise reappearances and awkward encounters. Under Resnais’s direction, the clunky reconstruction of the devastated French town is as central to the action as the characters are, creating a blank and bleak setting for their oblivious chitchat. In effect, he attributes two French generations’ worth of neurotic, self-destructive behavior to the collective repression of history.” — Richard Brody, The New Yorker


“A subtle, precise, and wrenching film, shot largely without recourse to the stylistic flourishes that made Resnais' reputation.”
– Dave Kehr

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