Review by Rich Cline | 4.5/5   MUST must see SEE

dir Ira Sachs
scr Mauricio Zacharias, Ira Sachs
prd Said Ben Said, Michel Merkt
with Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, Adele Exarchopoulos, Erwan Kepoa Fale, Arcadi Radeff, Lea Boublil, Theo Cholbi, William Nadylam, Caroline Chaniolleau, Olivier Rabourdin, Tony Daoud, Sarah Lisbonis
release Fr 28.Jun.23,
US 4.Aug.23, UK 1.Sep.23
23/France 1h31

rogowski whishaw exarchopoulos
sundance london fest

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rogowski and whishaw
With his usual light touch, filmmaker Ira Sachs lets another riveting interpersonal drama unfold organically on-screen, aided here by a powerhouse central trio of actors. There's nothing easy about this unapologetic film, which follows a man who is the architect of his own unhappiness, and that of others around him. But the characters and situations have a complexity that's riveting, and real-life humour keeps things from getting too heavy.
In Paris, Tomas (Rogowski) has finished directing his latest movie and is celebrating with his husband Martin (Whishaw) when he begins flirting with Agathe (Exarchopoulos), leading into an affair. Tomas tells Martin that he's falling in love with her, then decides to move out. So Martin calmly moves on, getting to know rising-star novelist Amad (Fale) and considering the sale of the country home. But Tomas keeps returning to the flat, and Martin can't resist his need for affection. Then when Agathe becomes pregnant, Tomas proposes that the three of them raise the child together.
While Tomas is at the centre, events are seen through the eyes of all three protagonists. And their interaction reveals shifting power dynamics between them. Tomas doesn't see that he's driven by his own need for excitement and passion, regardless of how this affects those around him. And while his self-involved actions cause earthquakes, both Martin and Agathe have their own counterpunches, pushing and pulling Tomas, rejecting and forgiving him, struggling to do what they know is best.

These people feel so real that watching them is often uncomfortable. Their emotions are intense and easy to identify with, while their sexual connections have an unusual on-screen authenticity. Rogowski dives so fully into Tomas that we can't help but feel some sympathy for him, even though his ego-centric decisions cause no end of problems. Whishaw plays Martin as patient and thoughtful, willing to empathise with Tomas and unable to resist him. But the pain is genuine. And Agathe has an intelligent hopefulness that cuts through Tomas' loosely arty persona.

Most remarkable is how the situation unfolds without the need for major plot devices. Even the pregnancy refuses to drive the action, instead setting up some internalised thought processes and an amusing meeting between an inappropriately clad Tomas and Agathe's worried parents (Chaniolleau and Rabourdin). Speaking of which, costume designer Khadija Zeggai's contribution here is award-worthy, as is skilled cinematographer Josee Deshaies. Yes, all of the elements blend beautifully to create something that's provocative and deeply moving.

cert 18 themes, language, sexuality 23.Aug.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall