Synopsis: LA REPETITION stars Emmaneulle Beart (8 WOMEN, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE) and Pascale Bussieres in an erotic tale of two professional women who rekindle their friendship after a tumultuous break-up ten years before, only to discover that the passion that flames their relationship will only tear them apart once again. Directed by Catherine Corsini, this film was an Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival in Competition.
La répétition 7.75
eyelights: Pascale Bussière. Emmanuelle Béart. the complex emotional dance between the characters.
eyesores: the pace/editing.
“We love each other, but we stifle each other.’
Nathalie and Louise’s friendship runs deep. Very deep. Friends since childhood, they are inseparable – that is, until the day that Louise, exhausted with Nathalie’s rejection of their mutual love, decides to commit suicide.
She doesn’t succeed. But their relationship would never be the same.
Separated for a decade, fate would have their paths cross again one evening when Louise and her spouse, unaware that Nathalie had since become a successful actress under her mother’s last name, goes to see one of her plays.
After reuniting briefly backstage, Louise is unable to keep Nathalie out of her mind. She arranges to spend a weekend out of town to spend time with her former flame – lying to her spouse that she’d been invited by Nathalie.
Thus begins a downward spiral of obsession and lies as Louise tries to regain what she’d lost so many years ago. She and Nathalie soon renew their complicated dance, the emotional push and pull that tore her apart so long ago.
‘La répétition’ stars Pascale Bussière (‘When Night is Falling‘) and Emmanuelle Béart (‘Manon des Sources’). It was released in 2001 and played in numerous film festivals – and was even in competition at Cannes.
It’s a superb drama, dissecting a relationship that blurs boundaries to such extent that its participants lose their way and their sense of self. Relationships can be messy, and this friendship is one of the messier offerings.
What’s fascinating is how Louise (the ever subtle and complex Bussière) suddenly drops everything and becomes consumed with reclaiming what she had never lost, had never ever actually had. Hope and desire drive her.
She becomes sociopathic in her attempts to involve herself in Nathalie’s life, lying at every turn for convenience, stealing keepsakes, even influencing Nathalie’s career in ways she feels is best. She can’t help herself.
She even begins to lie to herself to justify her actions.
Meanwhile, Nathalie (one of Béart’s finest performances, performing both as her character and as an actress) is an emotional cripple, unable to function without the devotion of someone else, irrespective of the abuse.
So, naturally, when she breaks up with Mathias, she turns to Louise even though she just pushed her away. And, naturally, when Louise tells her the reason of her suicide attempt, she professes her love to her and seduces her.
And promptly pushes her away again.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Nathalie loathed her lesbian nature, or if she only fostered that close relationship simply because of her emotional need. Either way, it’s an untenable situation for Louise, who loves her dearly.
I guess this sort of story isn’t especially new, but I felt that ‘La répétition’ explores its characters relatively well. Plus which I’m a HUGE fan of Pascale Bussière, so I usually like anything she’s in (call me biased if you must).
Add to the fact that there are a few sexy (albeit brief) bits, and I find this picture quite an enjoyable watch. Yes, it feels a bit melodramatic given its quick shifts (i.e. it could have been padded a bit to help some of the transitions).
But, all told, it’s well worth repeat viewings.
Date of viewing: March 19, 2016