A Few Movie Review and Movie Summary (2022)

In light of all this, what is ultimately most fascinating about this film is how it suggests that a documentary filmmaker photographing spontaneous events might not be so different from a director trying to film a piece of theater, not by “opening it up” and making it something more obviously “a film”, but by preserving or somehow suggests, that the action takes place on a kind of stage. In both cases, something happens in front of the camera, and the “documentarian” tries to be faithful to the spirit of what happened, while at the same time standing back from it and looking for motifs and coherent performances. In one case there is a script, and in the other there is not.

“A Couple” is filmed theater that has been captured and interpreted by a fly-on-the-wall documentarian. The island is an open-air stage, and Wiseman stages action all over it: in the Tolstoys’ house; in the carefully landscaped garden behind; in the nearby forest; and on a rocky shore where waves rush and crash. One of the key images in the opening sequence is a bee pollinating a flower.

Soon after, Sophia begins her story, which is about a woman plucked from her youth by a controlling, chronically unfaithful older man whose first reflex was always to diminish or negate her importance and make it impossible for her to develop her own voice . as a writer, or her own identity as a human being. Boutefeu is 46, the right age for a character looking back on a marriage that began when she was a young teenager. She infuses the character with mournful authority, brooding regret and, most terrifyingly, a self-pitying desire to be appreciated by the man who crushed her. That she still sounds like a teenager makes it all the more poignant.

“A Couple” only has one character, but we get such a strong sense of Leo just by hearing him described that we feel like he’s an invisible second lead. Sometimes Sophia’s monologue is shot in ways that make it seem as if an unseen person is being addressed off-camera. Other times we are Leo, confronted with a woman still filled with love and hope, but also consumed with justified bitterness at the ways she has been shaped, distorted, constricted, humiliated, demeaned, condescended to and repeatedly cheated on. If the movie was set in the present, we would expect the story to end with the wife leaving the husband to start a new life and eventually flourish alone. But this story is true to the real people it’s based on and the time they lived in, and that’s not what happened.

Now playing in select theaters.

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