Can your first love be your last?Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu star in André Téchiné?s (Wild Reeds, Les Voleurs) film about two former lovers reunited by fate. Antoine (Depardieu) has held a torch for his first lo... more »ve Cécile (Deneuve) for 30 years and arranges to be reunited with her in Morocco in the hopes of rekindling their love only to find that his advances are not welcomed."visually alive, quick-witted and full of heart" - Stephen Holden, The New York Times« less
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Writer/director André Téchiné (Wild Reeds, My Favorite Season, Child of the Night, etc) is able to take what appear to be simple emotional responses from complicated people and create an artwork that makes us think, become introspective, and be challenged and entertained all at the same time. His ability to draw intensely personal performances from his actors makes him a director with a full heart and startling technique.
Essentially a love story, 'Les Temps qui changent' ('Changing Times') examines the lives of two people who fell in love in Paris 30 years ago, but parted. Antoine Lavau (Gérard Depardieu) has never married, so in love with his original flame Cécile (Catherine Deneuve) that he is obsessed with winning her back. Cécile has married a younger man, Natan (Gilbert Melki) who is a philandering physician, and lives in Tangiers where she hosts a dowdy talk show on the radio to help support the family. The couple has a bisexual son Sami (Malik Zidi), who has returned to Tangiers with his drug-addled girlfriend Nadia (Lubna Azabal) and her son Saïd (Idir Elomri) much to his parent's concern, and takes up with his Moroccan lover Bilal (Nadem Rachati). The family problems are further complicated by the fact that the Morroccan Nadia has a twin sister Aïcha (also played by Lubna Azabal) in Tangiers who is trying desperately to separate her life from her twin.
Antoine, an architect of means, manages to land a job in Tangiers in hopes of rekindling his romance with Cécile, but Cécile has become a feminist and a bitter woman who resents her younger husband's infidelity and wants nothing to do with love, especially with the threat of depth of feeling that Antoine's new presence in her world presents. Antoine is persistent, meets Cécile's husband for medical reasons, and tries to woo Cécile in a close to stalking manner. Cécile's best friend Rachel (Tanya Lopert) convinces her that the only way to end the ardor of Antoine is to sleep with him, which she finally does with unexpected results. While the dance between Cécile and Antoine progresses, Natan meets Aïcha, Sami and Bilal arouse old emotions, and Nadia requires rehab for her out of control drug habits. How all of these coincidental occurrences coincide in an unexpected accident for Antoine is André Téchiné's magical way of sharing the power of love in the most adverse of circumstances. The ending is surprising and thought-provoking and eminently satisfying.
Depardieu and Deneuve are luminous in their roles, adding yet other crowns to their careers of creating unforgettable, subtle characterizations on film. The remainder of the cast is also superb and the cinematography and music and editing and direction make this a feast for the eyes and the brain. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, October 06"
"You can't possess someone without causing harm,"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/21/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Apparently in André Téchiné's Changing Times Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve are together again after appearing in The Last Metro all those years ago. Surely though, they could have picked better material than this to appear in.
This strangely turgid and dramatically static drama is set in Morocco and features some great views of Tangier, and tries to probe the cultural gulf between the French ex-pats who live there and the Muslims, but the film comes across more as a vehicle for a reunion between two great French acting legends than anything else.
Depardieu plays Antoine, a successful construction supervisor who is in Tangier, to oversee a new housing project, but his reasons for being there are not exclusively professional. Antoine as it turns out still holds a flame for Cecile (Deneuve), the first and only great love of Antoine's life.
It's been more than 30 years since they split up, but Antoine, who never married, has apparently never stopped thinking about her for a single minute of a single day. So whilst Antoine seems determined to live the bachelor life, Cecile's life is so complex that she seems unendingly short-tempered.
Cecile is the host of a successful local radio show, is married to Nathan, a Moroccan doctor (Gilbert Melki), and has a grown son named Sami (Malik Zidi), who makes his home in Paris but has returned to Tangier with his own issues. Sami has bought Nadia, (Lubna Azabal.) to Tangier with her son, but he is equally interested in rekindling a relationship with a local Moroccan boy Bilal (Idir Rachati). Nadia, in turn, has a problematic relationship with a more traditional twin sister named Aicha she hasn't seen in six years.
The whole proceedings verge on tawdry soap opera and although these characters are richly textured and undeniably sympathetic, the under-written screenplay doesn't really give them much to do. There's very little plot and even less drama, so the whole film comes across as desultory at best. And in a totally silly turn of events, Antoine attempts to persuade Cecile to fall in love with him by consulting Nabila (Nabila Baraka), seeking a voodoo spell that would awaken Cecile's love for Antoine.
Though Téchiné doesn't deal with it in a ham-fisted way, his film is also interested in exploring what it is like to live in a city where cultures crash, Tangier is obviously a city where McDonald's and traditional sorcery both do a thriving business practically side by side and where illegal immigrants camp out in the coast, waiting for an opportunity to travel to Spain.
Changing Times feels like three separate movies all plied into one. Sami who is trying to balance his relationship with Nadia and Bilal feels like it comes from a totally separate film and Nadia's efforts to see her twin sister also feels like a sort of add-on.
Also, Deneuve and Depardieu don't have a lot of chemistry together; consequently, you never get the feeling that this is supposed to be the timeless love and devotion. As it stands Changing Times is a rather spotted and ramshackle film that tries to explore the themes of eternal passion but comes across as rather shallow and unsophisticated. Mike Leonard October 06. "
Not Casablanca . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 11/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The trailer for this film by French director André Téchiné gives the impression that it's a story of rekindled romance between two people who were once young lovers. This is true in only the strictest sense of the word, as the obsessive and undying infatuation of one of them (Depardieu) is met for most of the film by the unsentimental reluctance of the other (Deneuve) to feel much of anything but annoyance with almost everyone in her life - including her husband, her son, and her son's girlfriend.
The larger theme of the story is the lack of real emotional connection holding any two people together. The son carries on a purely sexual relationship with an old boyfriend, while his girlfriend tries unsuccessfully to reunite with a twin sister she has not seen in many years. Deneuve's character and her husband are separating as he takes a job in another city. Meanwhile, their son's girlfriend has a drug addiction and is indifferent to his professed affection for her. In the background is the cultural divide that lies between secular Europe and Muslim North Africa.
Words fly fast and furious in many scenes as characters express anger and frustration with each other. For non-French speakers, this is a drawback, as the film's setting in Tangiers offers much for the eye and the ear that speed-reading subtitles causes the viewer to miss. Deneuve, of course, is worth seeing in anything, and while her character here is not altogether sympathetic, her presence and the way emotions register on her face are fascinating. Depardieu, for his part, looks lumpish and a bit implausible as a lovelorn man of certain years, especially as he takes a bruising tumble after walking into a glass partition."
Must-see French cinema: Téchiné's 'Les temps qui changent .
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 08/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film ponders the question: How do you know when it's true love? André Téchiné (1943) is known for his emotionally-charged films that explore the complexities of what it means to be human. Anyone who has seen his film Rendez-vous knows his characters behave in mysterious and unpredictable ways, often motivated solely by the ways of the heart. Set in Morocco, with a soundtrack featuring Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo, Téchiné's Changing Times (Les temps qui changent) (2004) is a French love story. Gérard Depardieu plays Antoine, a middle-aged civil engineer, who has been counting the days since he last saw Cécile (Catherine Deneuve) thirty years ago. Cécile is now living in Tangiers, and has been married for twenty years to a Moroccan physician, Nathan (Gilbert Melki). At first, Antoine considers using witchcraft to win her back, but he is an engineer, after all, not a witch doctor. So he begins anonymously sending her roses everyday at the radio station where she works. When they eventually meet in a supermarket, at first Cécile wants nothing to do with Antoine, telling him their love is over, and that her life as a wife, mother, and broadcaster is complicated enough. Because Antoine is living in the past, he is unable to see the compelling woman Cécile has become. However, Cécile decides to have a fling with Antoine(or a "stop over," as she calls it), perhaps in an attempt to convice Antoine their love really is over, or perhaps to convince herself their love is a thing of the past. When Antoine suffers a serious accident on his new construction project, sending him to the hospital in a coma, Cécile scarcely leaves his bedside. She is visually moved when he regains consciousness. This film will appeal to romantics, except for those romantics expecting a typical Hollywood ending.
Changing Times - Unexpected And Beautiful
Mark | East Coast | 10/15/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Changing Times is in many ways a very unique take on traditional themes of love and drama. Gerard Depardieu is as stoic and effective as always, and Catherine Deneuve is used well if not to her fullest potential. And while we do not get to see how they were with each other in their younger lives, the film centers on them reuniting later in life through the effort of Depardieu. All of this is set to the backdrop of Tunisia in Northern Africa. Though the characters have each been changed by the different paths they have chosen in life, they are in some critical ways unchanged by their surroundings or time.
The one thing that is so amazing about this film is the way that the filmmaker mixes traditional sequences with artistic expressions of each character's point of view. It is subtle, but it adds a technical element to a very satisfying film.
The Story and the Script
Depardieu's character is an architect who has taken a project in northern Africa to be closer to his long lost love, Deneuve. Deneuve is since married to an Arab doctor and struggles to keep her distance from her old flame. While the premise is simple, the emotional depth of the writing and portrayals adds reality and a unique perspective to the story.
Added to the complexities of the romantic relationship are the various inter-relationships with children, friends, relatives and others. The dynamic of French norms against the backdrop of Tunisia also adds some strong story elements and imagery.
The screenwriting seems to have been characterized by quick yet short bursts of mostly casual dialogue. So much of the power of the film is what is communicated non-verbally. The plot of the story seems logically followed and effective.
Obviously the spoken language of the movie is French, and the dialogue is delivered in a quick and clean style. The only real negative that can be pointed out are subtitles that are often oversimplified and do not relay the full depth and meaning of several conversations. This is one foreign film where speaking at least a little bit of the native tongue goes a long way towards appreciating the movie.
The conclusions of the various plot elements is a mixed bag of both predictable and surprising results. What matters most is that it does come across as genuine and believable. Yet the resolutions of the various sub-plots aren't all handled cleanly and some story elements seem like they needn't have been included in context with the ending. Perhaps that was done intentionally. The actors once again make up for it with subtle and strong portrayals.
This film is truly an achievement for all involved. Lovers of French cinema need to see this if they haven't already. The nature of the story is that of longing and the test of time, and as a result there are some slow moving parts. While this is not for the action junkie, the pacing does support the story and is in keeping with the theme. Well worth owning and watching, particularly for fans of Depardieu.