Claude Sautet: The Things of Life

The Things of Life

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The Things of Life
Les choses de la vie | Claude Sautet, 1970
France/Italy/Switzerland | French with English subtitles | Format: 35mm | 89 minutes

Not on DVD!

Wounded by the box-office failure of L’arme à gauche, Sautet turned his back on cinema for five years before making a spectacular comeback with this stylish romantic melodrama that cemented his international reputation and marked the start of a fruitful creative partnership with the screenwriter Jean-Loup Dabadie (Max et les ferrailleurs, César and Rosalie, Vincent, Francois, Paul and the Others) and the actors Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider. Based on a novel by Paul Guimard, the film begins with the aftermath of a violent car crash along a rural motorway. As the man, Pierre (Piccoli), lies in a semi-conscious stupor amidst the burning wreckage of his MG, his life flashes before his eyes—specifically, his complex entanglement with two very different women: his dutiful, long-suffering wife (Léa Massari) and his adoring, free-spirited mistress (Schneider). One scene follows another in fragmented, free-associative fashion, periodically interrupted by images of the accident itself, ingeniously filmed by Sautet with an army of slo-mo cameras in a manner that recalls the climax of Bonnie and Clyde. Poorly remade in the U.S. as Intersection with Richard Gere and Sharon Stone, accept no substitute for this masterful portrait of a man literally and figuratively caught at life’s crossroads. 

“An understatedly haunting, sophisticated, and insightful portrait of emotional attachment, indecision, and intimacy.” —Acquarello, Strictly Film School

Series: Claude Sautet: The Things of Life

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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