Sunday, January 13, 2008

Two English Girls

Les deux anglaises et le continent; drama, France, 1971; D: François Truffaut, S: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Kika Markham, Stacey Tendeter, Sylvia Marriott, Marie Mansart, Philippe Léotard

France, 1899. Claude is a young aristocrat who lives with his mother. One day he meets sculptor Anne from England and becomes her friend. After some time, he leaves with her into her home to England. Anna's sister Muriel, who has problem with her sight, and her mother also live there. Claude proposes Muriel but her mother demands a year of separation before the marriage in order to test their faithfulness. Back in France, Claude forgets about Muriel and starts a relationship with Anne. When she dies, Muriel ends up with him in bed, and evidently leaves him.

Francois Truffaut once said he was very pleased with his elegant melodrama "Two English Girls" - an adaptation of Henri-Pierre Roché's novel - even though the film didn't achieve success during its premiere, while the critics were reserved towards it. This conventionally directed drama, deprived from an opulent style we as the audience are used to these days, is truly overlong, yet at its core lies a touching, melancholic theme about fragile relationships, unrequited love and missed opportunities while Truffaut still achieved a few brave scenes. The best and probably the most unbelievable is the one where Cladue reads Muriel's letter in which she describes how her friend learned her how to masturbate when she was 8 (!), while one of the interesting ones is also the one where the sisters ask the hero about the "status" of the prostitutes in France. Without doubt, the daring parts of the story, among them even the finale that depicts Claude and Muriel having intercourse, are better, while the dramatic ones are rather tame and slightly monotone.


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