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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 April 2017
not bad
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on 1 April 2017
Tedious unengaging portrait of a woman who should spend her bourgeois existence doing something more interesting. Even the stunning beauty of Beart can't lift this one
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on 13 March 2015
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VINE VOICEon 11 March 2005
The film starts off well with the marriage between Ardant and Depardieu entering the final stages of boredom and collapse when she listens to a message on his mobile phone from another woman. She then endeavors to find out more about her husband's sexual tastes by hiring a call girl and meeting up with her for reports. Unfortunately the film does not keep to its promise of an interesting manage a trois between the wife, husband and call girl. Emmanuelle Beart, as the call girl, is tragically sexy; Fanny Ardant, as the wife, is thawing slowly; and Gerard Depardieu, as the husband, is effectively bored, but none of the performances raise the level of the plot beyond inertia and the ending brings no surprises. Worth watching for Emmanuelle Beart, if you are a fan, but otherwise give it a miss.
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on 21 October 2006
Nathalie is a 2003 film by Anne Fontaine (Dry Cleaning, My Father and I), starring Fanny Ardant, Emmanuelle Beart and Gerard Depardieu. It is a sophisticated attempt to look at the ways people betray each other, based on the murky dynamics of a long term marriage, but I would recommend it only to dedicated fans of the director or stars. Much more successful in my opinion is La Separation, a 1994 film by Christian Vincent. Not that Nathalie is a bad film exactly, but its flaws get in the way.

For one, the script (rewritten by Fontaine) is propelled by a relentless series of coincidences, the kind of thing that gives melodrama a bad name. It all starts when Catherine (Ardant) the fond wife of Bernard (Depardieu), a highly mobile Parisian businessman, finds his mobile phone which he has left lying around the home (that carelessness must have stuffed up his day). Like any good wife would, she goes through and reads his messages. Instead of boring business stuff, she finds a message from someone he has spent the night with who politely thanks him for the sex. Now if husband and wife had been playing mind games with one another we might guess Bernard has left his phone at home on purpose and that the message might or might not be genuine. But they are shown as a long term couple, with their sex life taking a lag, whom are genuinely fond of one another. So its one of those just happened scenarios: phone just happened to be lying around, wife just happened to read the messages, one just happened to be about the husband's infidelity. Catherine is distraught; she drives home from work, stops to think things over, and just happens to find herself parked outside a bar/brothel with a flashy neon sign, where she sees a prostitute say goodbye to a client. She enters, is approached by a prostitute called Marl'ne (B'art) whom she hires to seduce her husband, under the name of Nathalie. We might imagine all kinds of reasons why, but the film doesn't tell us.

This series of events I call plot devices, unlikely events which are cursorily said to have taken place so that the situation the author is really interested in can be set up. Some will be able to view so far and say, "Ah, the French, so impulsive...". Me, I'm wondering why nobody has left me a message on my phone thanking me for the sex. And I'm damn sure I'll take it with me, in case they do (more useful if you have the thing with you anyway). And are brothels really so up market as all that in France? I got annoyed at what I saw as careless scriptwriting.

Another bother was the acting. I know that Depardieu, Beart and Ardant are good actors, but here they were monotonous. Ardant, betrayed by her husband as she supposes, never tries to find out why. Instead she spends most of the film with a look of suffering on her face. It's well done; you know what she's feeling. Only, it would be a relief if she would get angry, sarcastic, bitter, depressed, self pitying, try to win Bernard back by looking seductive - after an hour of watching her suffer I found myself getting impatient with her. Depardieu plays a self depreciatory (!) man clumsily fond of his wife and pitifully anxious about her. He spends the film that way, and only the fact that we don't see much of him makes him less monotonous than the other actors. Beart has a role with some development, as the bi-sexual hooker who falls for Catherine, strings her along by talking dirty about what she and Bernard get up to, and gets dumped in the end. She gets to show what's going on between her and Catherine while talking about herself and Bernard, which is interesting.

I found myself unsure what the film was focusing on as I watched. Apparently about the marriage of Catherine and Bernard, but is it really about the relationship between Marl'ne/Nathalie and Catherine? Or was the director/screenwriter trying to give equal billing to her three major stars? There was some rough editing towards the end of the film, with scenes involving B'art which were not long enough to be establishing, the kind of shots that left me wondering, now what was that supposed to be about? I imagined a film about an unfulfilled housewife who turns to a lesbian love affair which had been sanitised by removing the scenes of two women making love and tacking on a conventional ending. The ending came out of nowhere and seemed to have little to do with the body of the film.

Watch the film if delving into relationship politics is your cup of tea. Maybe you can review it here and resolve some of my doubts.
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on 20 June 2017
The film is too good to be true. If I had, I must find someone like the hero. A story with happy ending. The plot is tortuous. On rainy days, I shut myself up and watch it by myself. The filming was excellent.
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As Woody Allen is wont to say- 'Thank heaven for the French, what would we do without them'.
I absolutely love this film.
Je T'Aime three times over.
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Fanny Ardant plays Catherine, a gynecologist of a certain age, who discovers that her husband Benard (Gerard Depardieu) is cheating on her. She wonders if this is a onetime thing or something he does regularly. So she hires a prostitute (Emmanuelle Beart as Marlene/Nathalie) to test him. When the test turns up positive, Catherine wants to hear the intimate details which Marlene agreeably supplies.

The details of exactly what they do would seem a bit hard to take for the spouse who is being cheated on, and Catherine does find some of the descriptions unsavory. However she insists on hearing them. The viewer begins to wonder if Catherine is not being sexually aroused by these details (which is what Marlene thinks) or is of a masochistic frame of mind.

As Catherine and Marlene draw closer together the viewer now begins to wonder if Catherine herself would like to have a sexual relationship with Marlene. Since a lot of the tension in the movie relies on just what it is that Catherine wants, I won't reveal the answer. She claims to love her husband but as the details get seamier and seamier she decides she no longer knows whether she loves him or not.

How this will resolve itself is what kept me watching. The ending is a bit of a surprise. See if you can guess it.

Ardant is excellent, although her long suffering face may become a bit tedious for some. Beart is very good as a skillful and opportunistic prostitute, almost too good perhaps because I found her a bit creepy. She was 40-years-old when this was released and there is nary a line on her face. Ardant's look was natural and, for me anyway, more agreeable. Both women are of course two of the most celebrated stars of the French cinema as is Depardieu, whose part is rather modest. Anne Fontaine's direction is clear and focused.

While not your typical "chick flick"--certainly it is not like American chick flick faire--this is nonetheless very much a woman's point of view movie with the kind of agreeable ending that will please most viewers regardless of sex.

Best line and typical of the kind of psychology presented is this from Catherine as she is talking to Marlene: "Jealousy. For men it's a reflex."

See this for Fanny Ardant who has that Catherine Deneuve quality of growing more beautiful as she gets older, a very talented actress who always carries herself well.
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on 15 March 2011
Emmanuelle Beart is a terrible pole dancer but a lovely actress.
Nathalie is an 'escort' employed by a jealous wife to entertain her husband, whom she believes to be bored and unfaithful. 'At least I will choose for him' she tells Nathalie before sending the nymphette off to ensnare Gerard Depardieu with her beguiling looks and charm. The tart with a heart then meets Fanny Ardant to recount les liasons dangerous in intimate 'graphic' detail making le femme sick with jealousy...
I see that a common tag is 'very predictable' and it sure is. Never has a denouement been so obvious.
Within the first few minutes I could foresee the outcome.
Anyway, it is tres charmant and worth watching. No guns, no car chases, no violence...this alone makes it worth watching. A very pleasant and amusing wee film. JP.
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on 26 July 2005
I saw this beautiful film a couple of nights ago and found it to be touching and gently haunting. This is an intelligent story about intimacy and the painful yet courageous quest a wife (Ardant) takes into a secret side of her husband's (Depardieu) sexuality. On discovering evidence of her husband's infidelity, she doesn't run, hide or repress but rather engages a painful curiosity to learn why and what he needs from these women. She hires Marlene (Beart) as a co-conspirator, renaming her Nathalie. There is never a suggestion or promise of a menage a trois, rather there is a simmering of sensualities between the women as they explore the shifting sands of truth, fiction and fantasy. This is done with a bewitching grace and allure, sensitively portrayed by both women.
This is a compassionate, insightful journey into the heart, soul and spirit of relationships. To view this film through a narrow sexualised lens is to miss the essence of the meaning and message. Both Fanny Ardant and Emmanuelle Beart are outstanding, and their dominance in the film reawakened in me the realisation of how dire 'chickflicks' and 'romcoms' truly are. This film has the depth, wisdom and style so typically lacking in most movies. Highly recommended.
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