I watched this with the gals on Friday night, and walked out of the theatre grumpy and disappointed. How could Catherine Deneuve let me down like that? Having had the weekend to stew and muse, however, I’ve decided, post-percolation, that the movie wasn’t as bad as all that: in fact, well over 80% of it was really great. What really cheesed me off about this movie is that the one character who in no way deserves any screen time (Elizabeth, the older sister) managed to hog not only a large segment of the story, but also a huge chunk of the closing.
Why was that enough to completely ruin my in-theatre experience? Elizabeth is a whiner. She’s shallow in the manner of self-absorbed people who don’t actually bother with any self-study, yet not a villain; instead she is utterly without personality. (Note: I feel the need here to say that I don’t think Anne Consigny did a bad job; in fact her acting reminds me of all the characters Claire Danes played back when I hated her, until I figured out that I merely hated her choice of roles. I’m sure as an actress Consigny is just wonderful. It’s just that you’d really never know watching this movie.)
Okay, you might interject, so you disliked a character. Why take it out on the rest of the movie? Because the entire rest of the cast does a stunning job of portraying stunning characters, every single one of them engaging and alive. Not all of them are likeable (Sylvia comes to mind, but that might just be me), but each one draws you into the story with fantastic personality, fully-fleshed-out characters, and my biggest weakness: flawless, snappy dialogue.
This movie should have had me in tears at the end, by rudely cutting me off from the family so beautifully painted, yet all I could think was how the flatness of Elizabeth squashed my ability to enjoy everyone else.
So in the end, I will say that it is a good movie, truly amazing in parts, but nonetheless marred by the crappy character that is the elder sister. If I were using my old rating system, I’d give it 6/9.