Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Un Coeur en Hiver - A Heart in Winter

1992 by Claude Sautet

Stephane is an introvert, but a master in repairing Violin, in a workshop run by Maxime, frequented by celebrity Violinists. They have been working together for so many years and seems to know each other very well. Maxime reveals to Stephane that he finally seems to have met a woman for his life, and is ready to leave his wife for her, Camille a violinist rising to fame. Camille's violin has a problem and Stephane repairs it for her. The extra ordinary coldness in Stephane is strange during the meetings, but Camille seems to be interested in this strange man. Stephane also has a friend, with whom he meets often and she does think Stephane has an interest in Camille. Stephane or this lady friend of his doesn't seem to have any other interests in their friendship. Camille is interested in knowing more about Stephane but he is not interested in talking about himself at all. The occassional absence of Maxime does offer more chances for Camille to get close to Stephane and she express her liking to him. But Stephane is very cold and rejects her completely. Camille reveals her mind to Maxime as well. In a restaurant, Camille, who still cannot believe she was rejected, desperately tries again to talk into Stephane and his rejection makes her go nearly violent. Maxime too is angry and slaps Stephane there. Stephane walks out  from the Violin workshop and sets up his own shop. After about 8 months Maxime visits Stephane again wanting to be friends again and Camille too seems friendly. Past is past.

We have seen so many love triangles. This one is a master piece of a Love triangle story. Typical of French movies, a lot of story is left for the viewer to interpret. How come Camille is interested in Stephane, why is he rejecting her and so on. It is when we watch such a beautiful movie we miss the original language, many subtleties are missed by the subtitles.

From recollecting some moments of the movie, I guess this :- Stephane is gay and he holds a special admiration for Maxime. He is unhappy that Maxime would leave his wife for a new woman and is quite jealous of Camille. Stephane uses the moments he have with Camille to cast a spell on her, in his own ways, and intentionally rejects her love to make her upset and to let Maxime know that Camille is fallen for his friend. May be he was hoping by this, Maxime would let her and he would have his friend back. Maxime also seems to be hurt that Camille is interested in Stephane, but because of his love for her, he is more disturbed that Stephane hurt Camille by rejecting her. Camille realises that Stephane is never going to love her and falls back to the comfort of Maxime's love. With time, the past has been accepted and normal friendship seems to be back, though there is a particular shot which says Camille still thinks about Stephane. I might be wrong in my assumptions, but I have to say this is an exceptionally great movie.

There are many many beautiful moments and some of these scenes explain how so much things can be told without saying anything at all. For eg: there is a scene were Camille visits the book shop where the lady friend of Stephane works. They dont speak anything about Stephane here, but the Camera follows their faces and their looks say everything. So is the scene in the restaurant where Camille tries to talk and finally cant control her rage, she simply cannot understand how a man can reject her.

I have seen only very few actresses, who have a very beautiful face and a perfectly beautiful body plus excellent talent to act. Emmanuelle Beart is definitely one of them. An important point in the movie is how can a single man reject the love of a beauty like Camille and I think there cannot be any better person than Ms. Beart for this role. Her eyes speaks more than a thousand words. I was charmed by her physical beauty in 'La Belle de Nouiseuse', here she proves she is more than that.

As the title reads, this movie is about a cold heart which is difficult to understand and who better than Daniel Auteuil to enact it. This role is made for him.

Cinematography in this movie is so beautiful and it can be a lesson to how to capture human beings and their emotions. There are also beautiful excerpts of  Violin.

For me this movie is a real master piece.
How much I wish to write more about this movie, better.


  1. Rajesh, I am inspired to watch it! Let me look for its availability. I had already watched Ameliè. that is really a great film. If you haven't watched some of the Iranian movies, it is worth watching: The circle, Lemon Tree,Children of heavean, colour of paradise- a few of them-
    Another thing i would strongly suggest is to continue with your photography. No technology can substitute the insight, truth and beauty which are born inside man. they cannot be invented by technology. If you are not professional in the field (I mean, not making a living out of it, looking only for its art value) and can do photographing based on themes, I think I can look for a forum through which your photography can catch the sight of at least 10,000. If you are interested kindly tell me. love, Jijo Kruian

  2. Thanks Jijo. Iranian films are simply brilliant. I have watched few like Children of Heaven, Offside etc. Its difficult to find the good ones with subtitles. I will definitely see more.
    The problem with Photography, Jijo, is that I used to take pictures with Transparency film. Now, this film is not available at all. And even if I manage to get them, there is nobody now who can develop it for me. I have about 6 roles, undeveloped for the last 2 years. They must be bad now, I still keep them though. And, unless I am taking some casual portraits, I dont want to use print film, only slides, as the colour saturation we get with slide film is brilliant. There is yet another disadvantage with Slides. I need to drum scan them to have a good image to use it in anyways. Earlier, when I did some exhibitions and when I managed to sell my TP's it was ok to drum scan. And those slides I scanned then are the only images I can show online. That means, I have only about 100 images which I can present now. So I really dont try to promote.
    I am very touched by your offer of help though. Out of this 100, I must say, I would dare to show only about 40% to anybody who is knowledgeable in Photography. With passage of time, you always find you could have done better with what you did earlier. isnt it.