Un Couer en Hiver

Dir: Claude Sautet. 1992. Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Beart, Andre Dussollier. French. Drama.
Un Couer en Hiver

I don't know if I have the academic background to write this particular review. Claude Sautet 's subdued genius of Un Couer en Hiver is threaded with music and art references I know nothing about. Yet, as an uninformed viewer I was no less affected by the interplay of silence, music and color to tell this elegant and slyly unique tale of love, betrayal and discovery through the eyes of an unlikely muse.

Un Couer may be seen as the birth of a great artist, or the tale of two (metaphorical) brothers and one love, but mostly it is the story of Stephane, a reserved violin maker who is a partner in a world class violin repair and design business within the elite sphere of classical music. His associate, the effortlessly dynamic Maxime, handles the buying, selling and deal making. He meets and greets the artists - is informed and affable while the reserved and intense Stephane is called when the violin needs a fine ear and fine repair. His passion is his control and within the first 3 minutes of the film you are under a spell so unexpected as to wonder about it days afterwards due to the brilliance of actor Daniel Auteuil.

Maxime's new love, a cold but promising violinist played by the angelical and vulnerable Emmanuelle Beart, meets and falls for Stephane quite against her tutored good sense. But her longing awakens her own passion and her music moves from eloquent precision to inflamed brilliance in repsonse.

There is the inevitable heartbreak for everyone involved but within the atmosphere of cultured intellectuals there is an intricate examination of when and how the heart becomes engorged with love, the healing and the scars left behind.

We are presented with a rich tapestry of sound and color, expression and impression; and without slowing the pace or easing the tension Sautet gives the audience time to reflect on each character who reveals more about the other than about themselves. Within such careful storytelling we are able to study, question and be moved by all that is and isn't revealed. A heart in winter may not sleep eternal, and its inevitable rising may also be a painful one, but in the end you are awake and isn't that what life and art demand?

Posted by:
Jessica Kaman
Jan 7, 2008 3:15pm
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