Pros: humor and direction by Louis Garrel; easy presentation of the plot; there is no protractedness inherent in films of this genre Cons: the film is not suitable for those who are not fans of European cinema “An Honest Man” / L’homme fidèle
Genre romantic comedy
Directed by Louis Garrel
Starring Louis Garrel (Abel), Laetitia Casta (Marianne), Lily-Rose Depp (Eve), Joseph Engel (Joseph), Vladislav Galard (Dr. Pivon), etc.
Studios Why Not Productions, Canal+, Ciné+
Year of release 2018 (in Ukraine 2019)
There is a special charm in French cinema that can convey the unbearable lightness of love. In films produced in other countries, it is not always possible to reveal all the nuances of the personal lives of the main characters without boring the audience. But the French are quite capable of this, just like the film “An Honest Man,” filmed under the direction of actor Louis Garrel.
Louis’s creative list includes many sensational film works: “The Dreamers”, “The Beautiful Fig Tree”, “Saint Laurent. Style is me”, “Young Godard”. In addition, Garrel already had experience directing a feature film – in the film “Friends” he directed the filming process (still starring in the title role). Therefore, “An Honest Man” is Garrel’s second and more confident directorial work, in which he allows himself to joke, puzzle and bring situations to light nonsense. The famous French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, who received an Oscar for outstanding services in cinematography, helped him create the film.
“An Honest Man” is the story of journalist Abel, who comes to the funeral of his long-time friend and meets his ex-girlfriend Marianne, who is mourning her husband. Nine years ago, a friend caused a break between Abel and Marianne, but now the path to their relationship is open again. The film could have ended there, but the main character’s problems are just beginning. Marianne’s son constantly hints that his mother killed her husband. And in Abel’s life, the deceased’s sister appears – the girl Eva, who from a young age was obsessed with the journalist.
It’s probably not worth talking more about the plot; the description already resembles a typical melodrama. In reality, everything is completely different. “An Honest Man” is a short (the film is only 1 hour and 15 minutes long) and witty story about the perplexity of a man. He tries to do the right thing, but in relationships with two women it is quite difficult for him. It’s so difficult that sometimes the hero’s life turns into a light theater of the absurd. In this, by the way, Louis Garrel does not encroach on the complex arthouse, prudently leaving his film within the framework of everyday reality.
An Honest Man premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it received critical praise for its unconventional script. The film was later awarded the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. The commendable words and the award speak for themselves, but as a viewer I would like to add that the humor of the film deserves special attention. It is very unobvious: it is divided into looks and gestures, uncomfortable situations and life turns. This is the whole point of “An Honest Man” – you can make a film from a similar angle about absolutely any people (even if they are not the most honest).
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Also attracting attention is the acting trio, on which the entire film is tied. Starring alongside Louis were model-actress Laetitia Casta (who is also Garrel’s wife) and Lily-Rose Depp (you know whose daughter it is). Together they create a light atmosphere of Parisian ease and romance. Thanks to their presentation, the melodramatic turns are not at all repulsive, and the comical moments remain close to reality.
So the result is a short and easy-to-read film that balances between carelessness and serious intentions. It is a pleasure to watch if you have been at least once immersed in French cinema before.
It’s good that such films can be seen not only as part of festival screenings, but also in regular distribution. “An Honest Man” is a specific, but still witty comedy that will appeal to a wider audience than it might seem at first glance.