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Author Topic: Un Coeur En Hiver (1992)  (Read 2199 times)
Noodles_SlowStir
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« on: October 17, 2007, 08:01:12 PM »

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Re: What Are You Reading Right Now?
Quote from: Dave Jenkins on October 15, 2007, 02:04:54 PM
The chapter in Roger Shattuck's Forbidden Knowledge entitled "The Pleasures of Abstinence: Mme de Lafayette and Emily Dickinson," as a way to better get at Claude Sautet's 1992 film Un coeur en hiver.
 


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Re: What Are You Reading Right Now?
Quote from: Noodles_SlowStir on October 15, 2007, 03:15:08 PM

I really like Un Coeur En Hiver.  Great film.  Daniel Auteuil's heart really had to be in winter to resist Emmanuelle Beart.  Very beautiful woman.  Love the Ravel score.  Sautet's Nelly And Monsieur Arnaud with Beart and Michel Serrault is very good as well.

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Re: What Are You Reading Right Now?
Quote from Dave Jenkins on October 15, 2007, 05:58:47 PM


You're right about the Ravel and the character played by Auteuil. And Beart was incredibly beautiful before she had all that collagen pumped into her lips (she looks like a cartoon character now). Hey, this is Shattuck's take on the film, tell me if you agree:


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"Claude Sautetís music-filled film Un coeur en hiver (1992) tells the story of a womanís love refused by a man who half-believes that such feelings do not exist. Everyone and everything else in the film, including Ravelís sensuous music, belies his attempt at emotional isolationism."


Shattuck seems to be saying that the Auteuil character is operating on principle, that he sees romantic love as a fiction, and as such, can't in good faith participate in the charade. To me the guy came off as just a cold fish.

I've seen Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud and have yet to make my mind up about it. As far as Beart's film appearances, her most impressive has to be la belle noiseuse (1991), where, as an artist's model, she spends most of the movie nude.



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Noodles_SlowStir
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2007, 08:21:45 PM »

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Hey, this is Shattuck's take on the film, tell me if you agree:


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"Claude Sautetís music-filled film Un coeur en hiver (1992) tells the story of a womanís love refused by a man who half-believes that such feelings do not exist. Everyone and everything else in the film, including Ravelís sensuous music, belies his attempt at emotional isolationism."


Shattuck seems to be saying that the Auteuil character is operating on principle, that he sees romantic love as a fiction, and as such, can't in good faith participate in the charade. To me the guy came off as just a cold fish.



Dave, honestly....I really think thereís elements of both.  Heís that complicated. I would say that I could somewhat agree with what Shattuck says in that statement. I think thereís a conscious attempt by Stephan, but also as you point out, a natural inclination to his detachment.  I think thereís more there than just Stephan having decided he doesnít believe in the concept of romantic love and therefore decides to live a solitary life in emotional isolation. 

I agree that one of Sautetís themes in the film is an exploration of the fallacies and self deception we have with romantic love.  Offhand, Iím thinking about the two ďargumentĒ scenes.  The scene with the couple in the cafť on the rainy afternoon and the argument scene with Lachaume (teacher) and his companion.  I think both those scenes show the conflict, harshness and reality of relationships and love as opposed to that rosy ideal of romantic love we all seem to have.  Notice how unsettled Stephan becomes in observing the conflict between these two couples.  The other scene is that raw public confrontation between Camille and Stephan in the cafť.  Camille comes to realize the extent that she has built up Stephan from his small initial steps toward her, and how sheís taken it down a path of obsessive love.  Iím sure there are other moments as well. 

Stephan is a mysterious character and hard to get a read on.  Perhaps by design, itís intentional.  I think the film is quite rich in the issues it touches upon. In addition to romantic love, it concerns itself with self, identity, conformity, attempting to know and understand others (if possible... and both in an amorous and platonic way), and I think about how one reconciles self with the outside world and the disappointments it can present.

I would agree with you that his nature is part of the situation.  Stephan has an inability to feel and open himself because of the way he is.  He remarks to Camille, his siblings noticed he was different.  Donít remember the exact adjective used.  I also interpreted events in the film, like the arguments, that his childhood may of been a factor.  Although he at one point seems to deny or dismiss this, there may of been conflict in the family between the parents.  I suspect this because of the way he reacts while observing the couples quarrel.  I think also Stephan has decided to live a life of isolation because heís unable to reconcile his disappointment in the world.  I think he would like to believe in the possibility of romantic love as depicted in books (and maybe cinema). Love, understanding and moral clarity in the outside world seem to be lacking for him.  For him, the outside world seems to fall short of the feelings and dreams inspired by his love of music.  So he would rather live in a world of ideas, objects and work... rather than people.  Whatever void there is, he seems to fill it just enough with his platonic social engagements with Helen.  He seems to have a caring and nurturing relationship with his apprentice, Brice.  Again, work related.  He definitely lives vicariously through Maxim.  Up until the fallout, heís quite content to work for Maxim and work in such a way that Maxim takes care of most of the social and public aspects of the business.  He also  gets enjoyment out of hearing Maximís personal stories about his travels and loves.  I think Stephan also has disappointment with himself.  Lachaume is definitely a paternal figure for him.  One of the ways I always interpreted their special relationship, was that it was indication that Stephan was a very gifted musician himself.  Perhaps his inability to feel, came into play with his perceived limitations as a musician.  He does say at one point that he didnít live up to his own standard of excellence. So he turned away from it, and instead became a master craftsman of the object or actual instrument of music.

I think in the end of the film, Stephan may have more doubts about some of the things that he believed, but heís unable to change.  So Iím not so sure I would say that heís fully operating out of principle.  By the end of the film, my interpretation is that he realizes how much he loved Lachaume.  I felt that the assisted suicide was an act of love and not of detachment.  He realizes that Camille did get inside his closed world and that he felt love for her.  I think he also realizes he cared for Maxim much more than he could admit.  If Iím not mistaken he remarks at some point toward the end that he ďlostĒ Maxim. It seemed regretful.  I do put a lot of weight on the last scene and contact with Camille while Maxim gets the car.  Itís a beautiful and sad scene.  Very nicely acted out by Beart and Auteuil.  Beart is wonderful in showing how much she still cares for him, her sadness, and also how sheís come to an ďacceptanceĒ of Stephan (much like Maxim).  I think itís significant how he asks her how she is...also how Maxim is.  For Stephan, I think even though heís aware of these feelings, he feels heís still incapable of opening his heart in a way that would be acceptable to the other.  So he retreats back to his interior world of work, objects....ďgetting oldĒ and coping with his disappointments in the world and..... perhaps himself.

Does Shattuck provide a detailed discussion of Un Coeur En Hiver or is it kind of a brief mention or reference to illustrate an idea or theme?




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I've seen Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud and have yet to make my mind up about it. As far as Beart's film appearances, her most impressive has to be la belle noiseuse (1991), where, as an artist's model, she spends most of the movie nude.

I would agree with what you say about La Belle Noiseuse.  Iíve seen it once.  Itís probably been ten years or so.  Iíve been wanting to see it again.  I liked it very much.  Of course I appreciated seeing Emmanuelle in the all together for the better part of the film.  Which is almost four hours if I remember (probably another reason I havenít revisited it).  I liked the location of the artistís home and I remember the film maintained my interest in its discussion about art and relationships.  I would agree with you that it is one of Beartís fine performances.  Certainly not an easy role since she literally bares herself in such an open manner.  I guess I had Un Coeur En Hiver and Nelly And Monsieur Arnaud in there as well.  Iíve come to appreciate Nelly And Monsieur Arnaud very much after a few viewings.  I think the performances by Beart and Serrault are very good.  In some ways I think Beart is better in Nelly than UCEH.  And I think sheís very good in UCEH.  For someone who never picked up a violin before, I thought she was very convincing as the gifted violinist.  As I mentioned, I think she effectively and in an understated way conveys the conflict and range of emotions her character feels in certain scenes.   As a film, I do like UCEH better.  No doubt because itís about music, musicians and that I really love the score.  Itís actually become a favorite through the years.  It was nice to see your mention.  Even though I've probably watched it more than a half dozen times....I've been wanting to watch it again.  This will definitely motivate me to...



« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 02:33:38 AM by Noodles_SlowStir » Logged

dave jenkins
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2007, 12:26:10 AM »

I can tell you've thought a lot about this film. Good, you are helping me to appreciate it more. One more piece of evidence about Stephane's lack of emotion comes during a conversation he has with Camille. She says something to him about wanting to defend his friend (or something), and he replies that Maxime is not his friend, they have interests that coincide and are business associates, and nothing more. Camille doesn't believe him, but I think he is being honest in that scene (just as he is being honest when he later tells Camille that he can't love her). You make a good point, though, that by the end of the film he has possibly undergone a sea-change (as a result of living through the death of Lachaume?). I had interpreted the assisted suicide as indicating again that Stephane is so cold blooded that he can perform the act unemotionally, but perhaps the scene is ambiguous. Or maybe he discovers emotions as a result of performing the assisted suicide. Yes, it's very possible Stephane changes over the course of the movie, although I didn't see evidence before that that had occurred. I'll have to watch the film again.

No, Shattuck has only that passing comment (hidden in a footnote) in his chapter on the pleasures of abstinence. I went back to that chapter after seeing UCEH and being somewhat disappointed with the picture (finding the film referenced in that unrelated book came as a complete surprise!). Because the film seemed to be little more than the revelation that the central character has no emotions, I thought Sautet had missed a chance to do something more interesting. There are any number of films where the central character is revealed to be less than meets the eye--Citizen Kane being the most famous example (but another one is the lead character in The Ploughman's Lunch (1983)). I was thinking that an exploration of the abstinence theme--suspending gratification as a means to gratification--might have worked better in this film, but now I recognize (thanks to your input) that Sautet may have been up to something more than I'd perceived. If Stephane actually does change, the movie is more interesting than I'd first supposed. As I say, I'll have to look at it again.

La Belle Noiseuse is a great picture, and not just because of the nudity. I think it comes close to presenting the creative process as authentically as possible, at least for a feature film. The artist at work stuff is just fascinating (similar to Beart's use of the violin in UCEH). Hey, another great Beart film is les destinees sentimentales (2000). She has a real talent for picking interesting films to appear in (unlike our female US stars).

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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2007, 11:50:34 AM »

Thanks Dave for response on Shattuck question.  I watched the last scene of the film over last night.  I couldn't watch the whole thing last night.  I'm going to try to this week.  I did go back and anglicize the names in my post.  I had to look up the cast and credits to get the name and spelling of the teacher character.  On Yahoo movies and imdb I guess the names were listed French (Stephane, Maxime, Helene).  The english subtitles of my copy drops the e, which was what I thought.  My self doubt....I went back and changed it.  Instead of being frenche.....I reverted back to my anal ways  Grin.  Not a biggie but that was my edit.

You're right about that moment with Camille, where he says that he did not consider Maxim a friend.  It's impactful and it's another moment where you say......this guy has ice water in his veins.  Also the scene in the car when Stephan tells Camille he doesn't love her.  It does recall that conversation.  When I've watched this film over, I've tried to get an understanding of this character, and I really do think that there is a change for him.  The problem is that he can't do anything about it.  Once he comes to his realizations....he's unable to change.  He says at some point...it's always too late for him. 

In watching the ending scene, I noticed something that I had forgotten that I really liked.  I like the acting and how Beart and Auteuil interact with one another.  She walks out to the car and gets in.  As they pull away, she looks back with the car window rolled down.  She just gives him one of the saddest faces ever.  The next shot is of Stephan in the cafe.  It's shot from the street and outside.  He's encased by the window of the cafe.  He too looks rather reflective with melancholy.  In the window are the reflections of people in the street and the sidewalk, imposed over him,  walking by.  What a great shot!

I do think that the assisted suicide scene is ambiguous.  I think I also thought initially that it was another example of how cold and detached he could be.  I think it could be interpreted the other way.  In that last scene, Camille in conversation says something to the effect that....you really loved him.  Stephan responds....I used to think that he was the only person that I ever loved.  I took that to be an acknowledgement that he felt things that he tried to repress and ignore.  That he seems to be saying he loved her.... and possibly Maxim.

After I watch the whole thing over, I'll see if I notice any other details that would support my take on him.  Maybe I'll see something different or feel differently.   I'll see how much I demolished the film (as Antonioni says) to come to my understanding and make it my own.
http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=171.30

I'd definitely like to hear your ideas when you get a chance to see it again as well.   



« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 12:04:51 PM by Noodles_SlowStir » Logged

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