Nelly (Emmanuelle Béart), a young married woman disillusioned with life and her self-unemployed husband, meets Monsieur Arnaud (Michel Serrault), an older, retired judge and businessman, through a mutual friend. The two b... more »egin a subtle, undefined relationship that leaves them in the end changed a little more profoundly than either expected. Monsieur Arnaud offers Nelly a considerable sum of money to pay her debts, no strings attached. Along with the money she accepts a job assisting Arnaud in writing his memoirs. As the writing progresses, Nelly comes to know the morally ambiguous past of her employer, and Arnaud contends with awakened feelings of longing. It ends abruptly when Arnaud and his ex-wife decide to tour the world on their way to Seattle, where he will see his estranged son. The French seem to have a talent for ambiguity and subtlety that this film shows off at its best. The relationship between the young woman and the older man is wonderfully intriguing in the way it plays out and changes each of them, and even more wonderful in that they never wind up in bed together. Béart and Serrault give flawless, nuanced performances as two people caught in each other's longing. A quiet and deeply satisfying film. --James McGrath« less
Hariharan S. | Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India / Seattle, WA, U | 10/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A gentle movie that explores a complex relationship. Understatement at its best.Nelly, played by the beautiful Emmanuelle Beart, is at crossroads of her life -- disillusioned with marital problems and aimless about future. She meets Arnaud, played by Michel Serrault, -- a gentleman, retired judge and businessman, wife separated -- at a cafe through a common friend. He helps her to overcome her debts and she in turn helps him to type his memoirs. Thus their interaction begins. Arnaud is infatuated by her beauty and personality (who wouldn't be?), but he is helpless in expressing that for the fact that he is of more than double-the-age of Nelly. She too is in love with the sophisticated, mature Arnaud but for the same reason as his, she is unable to accept it. She finds that her heart longs for Arnaud when she automatically rejects a live-in relationship proposed by a publisher-friend with whom she was dating and was happy.They try to be and feel that they are happy together, all the time knowing that a complete and defined relationship is impossible. Both of them are tormented by their love for each other. Is it love in the romantic sense? May not be. There is an emotional vacuum in both their lives. And they fill each other very well. She needs someone mature enough to steady her drifting, aimless life and he needs someone to illuminate his dull, boring life. It is not lust. It is not romance. It is not friendship. It is not concern. It is not finding solace. Or is it lust? Is it romance? Is it friendship? Is it concern? Is it finding solace? Frankly, I am at loss trying to comprehend the nature, complexity, depth and layers of their relationship.They know how much each one meant for the other at the time of their parting, when Arnaud's ex-wife takes him for a global tour. Arnaud, collected and withdrawn till then, embraces her passionately. Nelly, composed and passive till then, is shaken and devastated. They know it is coming to an end. The film ends with Arnaud thinking of her and Nelly trying to cope up with her daily life. I hate the ending as much as I love it. Perhaps, it was the appropriate ending. Not all relationships in life are complete; some end abruptly, some never ends.Beart and Serrault are magnificent. I am amazed by her ability to bring about a variety of emotions with subtle facial expressions and effortless motion."
Longing for Ageless Love
eguisheim | 12/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the film that I watch when I am in a decidedly Parisian mood. The lightning fast dialogue, the eloquent gestures and the few glimpses of the city conjure up that wonderful Parisian essence. The outdoor scenes are pre-wintry gray whereas the indoor scenes are softly luminous. These descriptions can also be attributed to the distinguished, older Monsieur Arnaud (a delightfully cynical but witty Michel Serrault) and the beautiful young Nelly (Emmanuelle Beart's loveliness saves her from mediocre acting abilities).Nelly is a woman in her twenties struggling to make ends meet after being laid off from her publishing job. The fact that her husband (Charles Berling of Ridicule) is also out of work and completely demotivated allows her to entertain an offer that she would not normally accept - a substantial loan from a virtual stranger, Monsieur Arnaud. She meets Monsieur Arnaud through her elegant, older friend, Jacqueline who confides that she once had an affair with this judge turned successful businessman. Jacqueline was attracted by his ability to really listen to a woman and offer true friendship. Nelly ends up accepting Pierre Arnaud's offer to type up his memoirs, and the two develop a unique relationship as they match wits in editing his manuscript. He's alternately gruff yet admiring while she's coyly feigning nonchalance. An undeniable chemistry exists but is never physically expressed.Monsieur Arnaud's publisher, the young, dark, somewhat smarmy Vincent is immediately attracted to Nelly. She's reluctantly drawn to him after spending an enjoyable evening with Monsieur Arnaud in one of Paris' most exclusive restaurants. Why she gets treated to this extravagant evening is a fun story in and of itself. After a dinner of remarkable fare, exceptional dessert wine (Chateau d'Yquem, 1961!) and flirtatious conversation, the desire to end the evening in intimacy results in Nelly seeking out Vincent. While Pierre Arnaud provides her with stimulating and heartfelt companionship, Vincent merely provides her with a physical outlet. Although Vincent wants more from Nelly, in her eyes, he cannot take Pierre's place.The subplots also support the major theme of love and age. A sweetly sad movie that will satisfy those in the mood for good (French) dialogue and a twist on the May-December relationship."
Subtitles Cut off on Widescreen TV?
B. Hassel | Jacksonville, FL United States | 05/24/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Can anyone confirm that the 2nd line of subtitles are cut off the bottom of the screen when played on a widescreen tv? I began watching the film on my Sony 46" Widescreen and anytime a 2nd line of subtitles appeared on the screen I could only see the top of the words barely. I tried on another DVD player and it was the same. I tried all settings, (Full, Zoom, Wide-zoom, Normal) and all 4 cut the subtitles off. I ended up watching it on my 4X3 Sony 36" TV and I could read the subtitles. Anyway, good movie, just wish I could watch it on my Widescreen.
Edit. This is due to overscan on many TVs. You should be able to see the subtitles correctly on displays without overscan, or 4x3 televisions."
This film is more than a film
M. Law | Phnom Penh, Cambodia | 03/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sautet's talent is fully displayed in Nelly et M. Arnaud. He revealed the subtly and complexity of human relationships so clearly that any human beings will agree with. This film is about dissecting reality beautifully on the silver screen. The ending was astutely thought out that one has to admit that only the French can do it."
Julian S. Brown | Arlington, VA United States | 04/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Claude Sautet delivers interesting characters in all his movies and this work is his best. Beart is stunning as a lonely women who leaves her coach-potato husband and then finds work and friendship w/ Mr. Arnoux, a retired judge. She helps him write his memoirs and puts "wind in his sails." Any love felt between Nelly and Mr. Arnaux sneaks up on you and leads to a bittersweet conclusion. This movie gets better each time you watch it."