REVIEW / FILM REVIEW – Charlotte Gainsbourg brings a character of Marguerite Duras back to life in “Suzanna Andler” by Benoît Jacquot. A poignant drama that quickly reaches its limits.
Suzanna Andler : a forgotten woman
Former assistant to Marguerite Duras, with whom he had notably collaborated on feature films Nathalie Granger and India song, Benoît Jacquot had promised him to adapt his play Suzanna Andler. A word now kept, with Charlotte Gainsbourg in the title role.
The film takes place over one day. In the 60s, the eponymous character visits a villa on the French Riviera, which she is supposed to rent for the month of August. Suzanna projects herself and imagines the summer she could have in front of her, punctuated by the visits of her relatives. But dreams quickly give way to a reality that comes back to hurt the heroine, composed in part by the infidelities of her rich husband.
For several hours, Suzanna will wander the places and its surroundings. A stop in time that sends him back his despair, his loneliness and the memories of a happiness that has since cracked. And despite several appearances, starting with those of her lover Michel (Niels Schneider), the feeling of isolation in this house and these abandoned landscapes is only growing.
A radical approach
To highlight the words of the writer, Benoît Jacquot opts for a total count in Suzanna Andler. The heroine hardly ever leaves the central room of the villa and when she does, the director’s camera sticks as close as possible to the faces. The movements are limited and repetitive, to the point of crushing the protagonist but also the spectator.
A radical device at the heart of which Charlotte Gainsbourg delivers perfect performance. Suzanna’s words resonate naturally with the actress, who knows how to highlight both her fragility and the resilience with which she accepts the emotional impasse that holds her back.
Benoît Jacquot manages to bring out the waiting, the escape through alcohol and divided romantic feelings. Themes dear to Marguerite Duras explored here with harshness, through a sketch that makes an open and luminous place more and more partitioned and sad, like the character. If the intentions are quite perceptible, it is difficult for the viewer not to have the impression that the business is running on empty, as the rehearsals follow one another, gradually stifling the need for a new perspective or perspective. ‘a break in tone, which will not come.
A mental prison
Suzanna Andler evokes the alienation of a woman victim of her social environment, unable to extricate herself from it. The heroine thinks she has some semblance of privacy and freedom thanks to the minimal lies she keeps with those around her. She nevertheless feels incapable of making a decision without her husband’s approval. The latter is in contact with her lover, which suggests that Suzanna is not even free from his deceptions.
Under the pretext of wanting to preserve her, her relatives hide everything from her, including their own transparency between them. The control she has over her life is only illusory. Alcohol and imposture therefore emerge as the only issues in a daily life that wealth can no longer embellish, even becoming an additional bar. Considerations that may seem ridiculous, even annoying, for a part of the public for whom time is unfortunately not of an stretchable value.
Suzanna Andler by Benoît Jacquot, in theaters on June 2, 2021. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.