ROMANTIC COMEDY; 1hr 28min (French with subtitles)
STARRING: Charlotte Rampling, Jean Rochefort
Perfect mismatch: Rochefort and Rampling
Bitterness is a terrible thing, even when handled with cut-glass finesse. Rampling and Rochefort are a treat as feuding luminaries Alice d’Arbanville and Louis Ruinard, and if their bile and ire feels uncomfortably sharp, so it should: stage actress Alice and film-maker Louis were lovers and collaborators back in the day. Their relationship ended abruptly 30 years ago, however, and imperious, fabulous Alice is now married to cultured British character Lord Evelyn Gaylord (Ian Richardson, and who but a Brit could carry a handle like that?). Since it is always the players and heartbreakers who leave their mark on a girl, for Alice, the acid memories of Louis linger even while she is clearly still in love with him — and he with her, in his roguish way.
The screenplay — conceived by director Antoine de Caunes — could hardly be any more obvious and OTT, but no matter: Rampling could charm the skin off a snake, the la-di-da locales are a fairytale in themselves, and sometimes guessing the ending isn’t such a terrible thing.