Friday, September 26, 2014

Movie with Abe: The Little Bedroom

The Little Bedroom
Directed by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Raymond
Released September 26, 2014

There’s something about the relationship between people of very different ages that seems to make for good cinema, and good storytelling in general. It makes sense, since people have a diverse range of life experiences depending on what they’ve been through and how far they’ve come. The latest such film to successfully explore the relationship between two people, one a young woman and the other an old man, is “The Little Bedroom,” a French production from directing duo Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Raymond in their narrative feature film debut.

Edmond (Michel Bouquet) is a man with a distant relationship to his adult son, who feels that his father neglected him as a child and therefore does not deserve much attention in his old age. Rose (Florence Loiret Caille) is his caretaker, who treats him like a person and expresses an attachment to him that her employers deem to be inappropriate and unacceptable. Not one to be dumped and left in a retirement home, Edmond is not pleased about his situation following a decline in health, and Rose takes the initiative to ensure that he isn’t left alone and to his own devices.

These two characters are both magnetic figures whose loneliness can be seen in their faces and in the way that they interact with other people. Their scenes together do not exude warmth, but their connection is shown through the small moments in which they interact and both take simple pleasures in doing ordinary things in specific ways. Both do not want to be taken at face value and want to be seen by those around them as more than just an old man and a nurse, and they may well be the only ones who see the other in that light.

Bouquet, now 88, doesn’t make Edmond into any person to like, portraying him as crotchety and rarely grateful for the things that someone like Rose who does actually see him gives him. The complexity of his performance makes Edmond more subtly and gradually endearing, a positive fixture for the obviously sympathetic Rose, who herself is somewhat prickly. Caille does a great job of playing opposite Bouquet, and the two help to make this film about friendship and affection an engaging and enlivening one. Though it takes a strange turn in its final act, “The Little Bedroom” is an affirming and positive look at an unusual friendship.


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