Nathalie

"Good"

Nathalie Review


In Anne Fontaine's Nathalie, we're barely treated to the cozy spectacle of Parisian bourgeois respectability of married couple Bernard (Gérard Depardieu) and Catherine (Fanny Ardant) - he's a well-off businessman of some kind, she's a doctor, they move in comfortable circles - before it gets broken up by Catherine's discovery that Bernard has been having an affair. Of course, this is a French film, so when Catherine tells her mother about Bernard's serial philandering, she responds only, "What a nuisance." One can be forgiven for thinking that, even taking into account the Gallic factor, Catherine's mother lacks in the empathy department.

What makes Nathalie different than your run of the mill tale of infidelity is what Catherine decides to do after receiving this news. She frets a bit about her husband, but instead of tossing him out or simply shrugging and getting on with things, she's left uneasy, pining with curiosity. Fortunately, there's a house of ill repute just around the corner from her office, so Catherine decides to do a little field research on what makes men do these sorts of things. Popping into the "private club," all tacky red décor and overly made-up girls, Catherine drinks whiskey straight and gets to know the prettiest girl in the joint, Marlène (Emmanuelle Béart).

Catherine has a request for Marlène: pretend to be a girl named Nathalie, meet Bernard, seduce him, and then report back to her with all the juicy details. Her marriage is one of those cordial but absent ones, where spouses pass like vaguely familiar shapes in the night - perversely, Bernard's affair seems to have made him visible again to Catherine, and now she wants to know more about him, his desires, everything. As cinematic conceits go, it's a tough one to swallow at first, though at least Fontaine (who also co-wrote the spare, smart script) has the intelligence to make Catherine's plan seem rather haphazard and ill-planned, and all the more realistic seeming for it.

Where Nathalie is most enjoyable is in the slowly blooming friendship between Catherine and Marlène, two women who likely would never have otherwise come together. The more sordid details that Marlène tells Catherine about her trysts with an impressively randy and imaginative Bernard, the closer they become. As the film progresses, and Catherine becomes closer to Marlène but more and more confused about her marriage, Ardant registers astonishingly precise gradations of happiness, jealousy and despair. Béart proves almost Ardant's equal, with her look of intense, almost starved hunger - she has an intensity, but it's ultimately a more shallow kind. The finely articulated layers of their unlikely friendship are handled nicely by Fontaine, who should also be commended for making a French film about a well-off couple where the wife not only works but has an impressive job.

This is a film that doesn't stand up to much analysis in the end, as too much of the plot hinges on a last-act surprise that should be blatantly obvious to most viewers about halfway into the film. However, Fontaine's well-mannered, though never dull, style is a treat, as is the limpid Michael Nyman score. Nathalie, for its seedy settings and prurient trappings, is really at heart just a simple story about friendship and marriage, and the lies that sustain them.

The DVD includes a making-of featurette.

Aka Nathalie...



Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 5.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Catherine, as Nathalie / Marlène, as Bernard, as François, Judith Magre as la mère de Catherine, as le fils, Évelyne Dandry as la patronne du bar, as l'homme d'un soir, Aurore Auteuil as la patiente de Catherine, Idit Cebula as Ghislaine, Sasha Rucavina as Marianne, Macha Polikarpova as Ingrid, Marie Adam as la secrétaire médicale, Sophie Séfériadès as une autre patiente, Serge Boutleroff as l'agent immobilier, Marc Rioufol as le client

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.