Nelly et Mr. Arnaud

Nelly (Emmanuelle Beart) is a hard working 25-year-old Parisian married to an unemployed couch potato. An older and more sophisticated gentleman, Mr. Arnaud (Michel Serrault), hearing of her financial troubles through a mutual friend (i.e. ex-girlfriend) and offers to pay her back rent, no strings attached. Dubious and possibly embarrassed about the offer, Nelly declines, but tells her husband that she has accepted a check from the older man. He doesn't seem to mind the arrangement and so Nelly, infuriated, decides to divorce him. She also decides to accept the check from Mr. Arnaud as well as the proffered job of typing up his memoirs. Their relationship grows as she makes comments and suggests alterations in the manuscript, until Mr. Arnaud begins to contemplate seducing her. Arnaud's youthful publisher, Vincent (Jean-Hughes Anglade) also meets Nelly and becomes enamoured of her. Their frequent conversations and eventual evening dining together disturb Arnaud enough to make him suffer feelings of jealousy and disappointment. Both Nelly and Mr. Arnaud harbor repressed feelings of love, hurt, and anger that originate from different sources and project themselves in different ways; the characters surrounding their lives often seem like catalysts to their central relationship within the confines of the film. What destinies await them and what effect will they finally have upon one another? Despite their age difference, each seems to be on the brink of a new horizon.

Director Claude Sautet, who also gave us the magnificent prize winning Les Choses de la Vie, once again shows us his capacity for sensitively telling a tale of human emotions. Admirably assisted by the performances of his three leading actors, he has managed to produce yet another film that touches upon human complexities without explaining away the mystical qualities that can exist between people. Emmanuelle Beart, winner of a Cesar for her role in Manon des Sources, shows that her talents have continued growing during the past decade. Michel Serrault is, as always, wonderful to watch and adds his unique comic touch to this dramatic role. Jean-Hughes Anglade, who first took audiences by surprise in L'homme Blesse, has matured into a fine actor, achieving one success after the other in the past few years. With a trio like this, one need only sit back and enjoy.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett