Claude Sautet: The Things of Life

A Few Days with Me

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A Few Days with Me
Quelques jours avec moi | Claude Sautet, 1988
France | French with English subtitles | Format: 35mm | 131 minutes

Not on DVD!

Dispirited by the critical and commercial failure of Garçon!, Sautet flirted with retirement before the enterprising young producer Philippe Carcassone lured him back with a simple proposition: to make a film with actors, screenplay collaborators and technicians he had never worked with before. The result, A Few Days with Me, would prove the beginning of a late-career renaissance for the director. In a dexterous comic performance that recalls the future collaborations of Mathieu Amalric and director Arnaud Desplechin (Kings and Queen, A Christmas Tale), Daniel Auteuil stars as Martial Pasquier, the eccentric scion of a prominent supermarket-owning family. Newly released from a psychiatric hospital when the film begins, Martial is dispatched to the sleepy provincial town of Limoges to perform a routine check-up on one of the family stores. It’s not long, however, before he flummoxes the local riff-raff and petit bourgeoisie alike by taking up with Francine, the semi-literate housemaid (Sandrine Bonnaire) of the fussbudget store manager (the marvelous Jean-Pierre Marielle). Chocked full of delightful secondary characters, including Francine’s lovable lug of a boyfriend (Vincent Lindon) and Martial’s exasperated, drama queen mother (the legendary Danielle Darrieux), this splendid riff on the Pygmalion story turns on a dime from gentle class satire to full-blown farce, culminating in a psychedelic dinner party from hell worthy of Jacques Tati. Sautet himself would come to rank A Few Days, alongside César and Rosalie and Max et les ferrailleurs, as his personal favorites among his own films.

“Sautet, one of the great artisans of the naturalistic French screenplay, is dealing with life and death, love that destroys, but he mixes his moods expertly. He keeps A Few Days With Me incongruously light, deft, humorous.”—Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times

Series: Claude Sautet: The Things of Life

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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