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This movie is an adaptation of Maguerite Duras’ semi-autobiographical 1985 novel La Douleur. It looks at Duras (Mélanie Thierry) as
she searches desperately for information on her husband after he was arrested by the Nazis in 1944. This includes befriending the officer
that arrested him.
This is a heavy and uncompromising depiction of uncertain grief. Of mourning for someone you are just not quite sure is dead. It’s told in a series of half-remembered narrations by Duras, giving the proceedings a sense of hazy sense of detachment. It’s an extremely distinctive, raw and personal way of getting these unique emotions of war across. Where nothing is certain and we come to accept that this reality is just not tangibly the same as it is during peacetime.
This is held up by carefully handled and lush cinematography and an excellent performance by Thierry. It blurs the lines of morality and emotionality, where Duras is seen literally inspecting herself as the scenes cross-fade with the character looking at herself in flashback. Provocative and intelligently emotional, it’s both a historical retelling and a mood piece that manages to expertly blend both together with masterful direction.
Emmanuel Finkiel has made his mark in French cinema right from his debut. He first feature, Voyages, earned him a César Award in 2000, and award at Cannes. A former AD of Jean-Luc Godard and on Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy, he’s gone on to carve a career in filmmaking in his own right. Alongside Voyages, his credits include Casting, A Decent Man, Nowhere Promised Land, and more. He shall be in attendance on the Sunday screening of Memoirs of War at 4.30pm.
Written in March 2019, by Daniel Kiniry