In the Shadow of Women Screen 28 articles

In the Shadow of Women


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  • None of this is particularly incisive or revelatory, and Merhar, like Garrel fils, is such a handsomely inexpressive hunk of wood that the narration often blatantly contradicts his non-performance. Garrel has a superb eye—his monochrome widescreen compositions are peerless—but he needs better taste in actors, and something to make a movie about besides cheating.

  • [Garrel's] stark, brooding, often unfathomably personal relationship dramas have an element of self-critique, but at their worst, they seem to reflect attitudes of narcissism and sexism rather than to challenge them. But "In the Shadow of Women" is, if not an outright comedy, certainly much funnier than anything Garrel has made in the last decade, during the run from "Regular Lovers" to "Jealousy."

  • The plight of the characters here may seem trivial, and indeed they would be were they directed by someone else. But the Garrel touch imbues the film and its poor players with humanity. Shots of characters in front of walls, apartments, and windows are so full of life, until they walk out of frame. Then the camera lingers on the bare environment: indifferent, and suddenly out of touch with the love that charges every movie Garrel has made.

  • Like other recent Philippe Garrel films (e.g., Frontier of Dawn, Jealousy), In the Shadow of Women is a ruminative tale of a love triangle gone awry. What makes this latest installment in Garrel’s ongoing faux-autobiographical saga slightly different is the contribution of veteran screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière... [He] injects a lighter, occasionally even screwballish tone into Garrel’s characteristic meld of erotic entanglements and political preoccupations.

  • In the Shadow of Women doesn't stray far from Philippe Garrel's usual formula. Like most of his films, it's a throwback to the nouvelle vague that uses that movement's stripped-down experimentation to depict a tumultuous relationship. Yet Garrel diverges from his usual early-Godardian prism of wounded (but also analyzed and critiqued) male insecurity and tracks closer to the milder politics and aesthetics of Eric Rohmer.

  • The honesty in the writing of 70 preceding, ephemeral minutes, moments that resonate and speak truthfully, amplifies the sweet simplicity of the end, nearly overshadowing obvious gender problems. Still, one can’t help but wonder if a pictorialist of Garrel’s skill and an observer with his erudition could find something else to look and think about for 70 minutes.

  • The reason for such fertility is because the soil of this no (wo)man’s land is the principle of drama: one character wants something from another character, who in turn wants something else. This basic set-up creates just enough structural solidity to completely liberate Garrel’s camera to follow them and watch their reactions to this minuscule seed of conflict. If we care about them enough (and as a matter of fact, I do), this is all we’ll ever need.

  • Strangely light, almost his version of a Woody Allen comedy. Although a filmmaker who has been as thoroughly committed to emotional anguish and amour fou as Garrel is not just going to abandon those elements unproblematically, and so there's an unnerving undercurrent at work here, almost a blankness that functions like a mirror of the viewer's own sexual politics.

  • A wry little anecdote about human weakness, people screwing up and things getting out of hand; whatever Garrel used to be, he's 90% sensibility now.

  • Filmed in widescreen black-and-white that makes Paris look both decrepit and irresistible, this is a swift tale of what men and women want versus what they settle for. Garrel’s ideas on both are pretty old-fashioned. But he wraps it up with a pleasurable O. Henry-like twist, and a moment of what feels suspiciously like true love.

  • Given that Garrel and his frequent writing partner Arlette Langmann are behind some of the best films ever made about hopeless relationships, In The Shadow Of Women inevitably comes across as a lesser work by big-time talents… But while this wry take on the attrition warfare of the sexes might not rank with Garrel’s best, it still has the marks of his well-developed intimate style, in which scenes are staged as though from memory, and every turn seems obscurely personal.

  • Shot in beautifully stark black and white by Renato Berta, the film is elegantly executed, but often it’s a matter of understated grace notes… It’s this detachment and economy that make the film so effective even when its ironies seem obvious or over-stressed.

  • This story of an ordinary man (more ordinary than he may know) is told in a brilliantly stylized black and white film Paris through scenes of precise choreography, where the man is seen more than often lying in a bed or sitting quietly, while women stand up, move around, walk about, work and whirl.

  • The currents of desire, jealousy and resentment that flow through a relationship over time receive an exquisite close-up from director Philippe Garrel in “In the Shadow of Women,” a tightly focused romantic drama that exudes the narrative terseness of a good short story and the lucid craftsmanship of a filmmaker in full command of the medium.

  • This classical, militantly un-decorous form of filmmaking charges tiny adornments with maximum impact, such as numerous shots of a microwave oven (you'll know when you see it). In the few moments when characters interact with modern technology, it's just odd, and it's because their hair-trigger emotional honesty seems sprung from another era.

  • The film doesn’t pretend any of this is particularly groundbreaking. On the contrary, Garrel’s exceptional achievement is managing to treat such potentially trite material with a freshness that is discreetly radical.

  • When the wife walks to a rendezvous with her lover, her glowing face is matched by the elation of the camera's smooth track in front of her, both so full of anticipation. Later, walking to break up with him, the camera is no longer in front but behind, no longer smooth but jagged, handheld. It's the small things, the sympathetic touch, the bareness of the drama and its small world, spare and personal but not overly private.

  • The voiceover, spoken by the director’s son and frequent star Louis, is wry and self-consciously droll, outlining the couple’s various predicaments in slyly comical fashion. In Garrel’s world, the simplest gesture can carry the most lasting significance—it’s no coincidence that he saves Pierre’s one and only smile for the film’s stirring final shot.

  • Throughout the film, however, there is a strong comedic element, which even had your humble correspondent seeing parallels with Shakespeare’s comedies.

  • The electricity between [Pierre and Manon] is immediate; they leave the funeral, first to continue the argument that led to their breakup, but then to passionately reunite. Pierre, smiling for the first time in the film, tells her: “You’re the love of my life, you know.” ...They stroll off together plotting their next film projects. Love, life, cinema, truth—In the Shadow of Women captures so much, in so little time. It’s Philippe Garrel, in a nutshell.

  • With help from a bone-dry Louis Garrel voiceover narration, In the Shadow of Women unfolds with storybook simplicity in detailing a particular episode of marital dysfunction. But if its structure has a brutal, compressed logic, its individual chunks of time are dense with discomfort, with paths left unexplored and instincts left un-acted upon.

  • Like Eugène Green’s superb La Sapienza, Philippe Garrel’s latest chamber drama unfolds the crisis of a middle-aged, longstanding couple, played by Stanislas Merhar and Clotilde Courau. With novelistic flair and breathtaking economy, Garrel whisks us through the stations of doubt, infidelity, accusation—and takes us to places his cinema has rarely taken us before.

  • Garrel’s latest film, In the Shadow of Women, is as characteristically centred on the shifting romantic allegiances of bohemian couples as most of his output, except that he now includes a more critical perspective on hypocritical male behaviour. Here a happily married documentary filmmaker succumbs to a Parisian ménage à trois, but then finds the tables turned on him. The film was represented in Morelia by actress Clotilde Courau, who is quite wonderful as the traduced wife.

  • The importance of love, the deceptive lure of political nostalgia, and the problems of two people in a room—what Philippe Garrel’s art lacks in variety, it makes up for in crystalline focus… As ever with Garrel, much of the pleasure of the film is in watching the eyes of the actors, trying to decipher who has decided what and when, searching for the telltale signs of someone changing their mind.

  • The opening scene magnifies the well-wrought opacity. We see Pierre (Stanislas Merhar) leaning against a wall and nibbling on a baguette... Mainly he stares off into the distance; he's either lost in thought or completely zoned out. And yet despite Pierre's unfocused gaze, ours remains resolutely fixed on the actor playing him: Among their many enchantments, Garrel's films are populated by faces to get lost in, striking visages marked by beautiful planes and angles.

  • Merhar emotes so little than his bodily tremble during a climactic argument with his wife is seismic. Courau, on the other hand, frowns, dotes, laughs, and seems entirely human. If anything is natural to this pair, and to pairs elsewhere, it’s the tendency to imagine that our partners are somehow better than average, gifted and good—nothing short of infallible. Garrel pokes holes in and pokes fun at this pretension, but he has no rancor for his characters. Shorn of illusions, we can lie together.

  • Garrel's film is not a work of nostalgia but a film *about* nostalgia or, rather, the temptation and threat of nostalgia in the face of the endurance of the grand past, which dominates the present day. "In the Shadow of Women" resounds with a quiet astonishment at the epochal clashes and heroic exertions on which today's private struggles depend.

  • Garrel moves gracefully between their perspectives, encouraging empathy with all three while also noting their limitations. The film is particularly astute when it comes to analyzing the hero's "typically male" equivocation and entitlement; it's also generous enough to let the character realize his errors before they ruin him. This may be Garrel's lightest, most optimistic work, though that's not to say that any of it feels frivolous.

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