Thursday, July 18, 2019

Movie with Abe: A Faithful Man

A Faithful Man
Directed by Louis Garrel
Released July 19, 2019

In an ideal relationship, everyone involved will feel the same way. Love and passion will be reciprocal, and there will be a shared sense of what the dynamic should look like and where it is headed. That isn’t always the case, of course, and as a result, unequal expectations can lead to problems and often to the eventual dissolution of a relationship. When things aren’t clear, however, identifying the precise point of termination can be murky, and it may not end up being such a finite ending, with unpredictable passion keeping the door open for future encounters under different circumstances.

Abel (Louis Garrel) is flabbergasted when his girlfriend Marianne (Laetitia Casta) announces that she is pregnant with the child of their friend Phil and that they are getting married in a few weeks, meaning that he has to move out. Nine years pass, but Abel’s feelings for Marianne remain, and when Phil dies unexpectedly, he finds himself back in Marianne’s life. Things aren’t so simple, however, since Marianne’s son Joseph (Joseph Engel) believes his mother poisoned his father, and Phil’s younger sister Ève (Lily-Rose Depp) decides the time is right to finally express the bursting love she feels for Abel, who has never paid much attention to her.

This film has a unique energy to it that finds Abel as an unwitting participant in his own life, hopeless to be guided by anything other than his obsession with the woman who dismissed him with no warning. The role of narrator shifts midway through the film, allowing Ève to describe a similar immutable lust for Abel that dominates her every romantic and sexual thought and subtly influences each relationship decision she makes. Marianne is more mysterious, much more aware of the hold that she has over Abel and how she can use it to get what she wants. Young Joseph is the most communicative of the bunch, looking at his life like a detective story and eagerly roping Abel into it as soon as he shows up to become a major presence in his life.

Garrel pulls triple duty as director, cowriter, and star, portraying Abel as eternally frazzled and believably in love with a woman who doesn’t treat him right. Casta is wonderfully guarded opposite him, speaking volumes with just an expression or simple gesture. Depp, the daughter of actor Johnny Depp and actress Vanessa Paradis, delivers an endearing breakout performance as the eager Ève, who seems far more bothered by the heartbreak she endures than Abel. Engel is great too, delivering on the same level as his adult castmates. This fun comedy runs just seventy-five minutes, but it manages to be entertaining the whole way through, aware that it’s hardly serious or realistic and perfectly content with that.


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