Saturday, October 18, 2014

Generic done surprisingly well: Diane Kurys' FOR A WOMAN spans WWII to the 1980s

As beautiful, specific and gloriously acted as is FOR A WOMAN -- Diane Kurys' latest love story told from a woman's perspective but which does not slight the male characters in any way (Kurys has always done this sort of thing quite well) -- there is, it must be said, something a bit generic about it all. Perhaps because, by now, TrustMovies has seen these French family sagas encompassing World War II and the Holocaust (Claude Miller's A Secret is one of the best) so many times that their plots, including their odd diversions, seem somewhat second-hand. Yet even second-hand stuff, when done well enough, can make for an almost completely engrossing film. And that is exactly the case with this mysterious little charmer.

As writer and director, Kurys (shown at right) continues to grow; For a Woman proves one of her best. In the relatively dense plotting, the smart pacing, and the superb performan-ces, you couldn't ask for much more. The story told is of two sisters, now middle-aged adults, discov-ering information and relationships their parents had decades earlier during World War II. So, yes, there is a kind of mystery afoot, though about what and why we're not sure until nearly the finale.

The movie is also a love story about how love can abide and remain important even years after the events that first set it off, when at least one of the principals involved has long gone. It's primarily a tale of a man (Benoit Magimel), his wife (Mélanie Thierry, above, right), and his younger brother (Nicolas Duvauchelle, above, left) and what the war/Holocaust has made of them.

All three performers are excellent, with Magimel (above) -- lately one of France's most impressive and versatile young actors now growing into a very interesting middle age -- giving the best performance in the least likable role. He is superb, and all the more moving because his role encompasses such a difficult character.

In some plumb supporting roles are Clothilde Hesme (below, left, with Thierry), Clément Sibony (above, center) and Denis Podalydès, along with Sylvie Testud and Julie Ferrier as the adult children of Magimel and Thierry who do the sleuthing. If the photo above looks like a typically happy family scene, the irony here will be much appreciated once you've watched the movie.

After a very limited theatrical release, For a Woman -- from Film Movement and running 110 minutes -- hits DVD this coming Tuesday, October 21. And if history be any guide, you can expect it to appear on Netflix streaming very soon after.

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