Rare is a film in which I can find nothing redeeming about. Even the worst of films typically have some things which are good. With the film Suzanna Andler, directed by Benoit Jacquot (Farewell, My Queen, 3 Hearts), I really had to struggle to find its redeeming qualities.
Meant to be a star turn for Charlotte Gainsbourg (Melancholia, Antichrist), it takes away from her performance by being a muddled, elitist, navel gazing mumblecore. A dialogue heavy story of an unhappily married woman, who talks about her wealthy husband and his affairs to the younger man (Niels Schneider – I Killed My Mother, Sympathie Pour la Diable) she is sleeping with. Pot calling the kettle black, I say. No one is sympathetic here. I did not want to root for anyone. Making liking what was going on extremely difficult.
Suzanna feels herself trapped by the expectations society has for her to continue as a wife and mother, but she feels the pull of freedom which her young lover represents. Sigh. See, not very likable. And so bourgeois it is painful. The way that Gainsbourg presents Suzanna seems to indicate that she herself is bored with it all too. Her voice never raises or lowers, her face rarely moves. The most dramatic thing happening here is when Suzanna lights one of her many cigarettes or shrugs her shoulders. Dull as dishwater.
The film (screenplay also written by Benoit Jacquot) is based on an unknown play by the highly respected Marguerite Duras. I have a sneaking suspicion I know why it was unknown. Because no one could bear to sit through it! If this adaptation is true to the original, that is. Really should be used as a test of a person’s patience.
Thankfully the story takes place over one single afternoon so that translates to a short run time of 91 minutes. Small favours as they say.