Le Secret
Better days. Marie and Francois haven't a clue what lies ahead...
dir Virginie Wagon
scr Virginie Wagon, Erick Zonca
with Anne Coesens, Michel Bompoil, Tony Todd, Jacqueline Jehanneuf, Quentin Rossi, Aladin Reibel, Natalya Ermilova, Richard Malbequi, Ariane Pick, Frederic Sauzay, Valerie Vogt, Estelle Vincent
release UK 24.Aug.01
00/France 1h47

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Examining marriage in a rather typically French way (that is, lots of talking and agonising without any answers at all), this film at least has intriguing characters and situations that are both telling and meaningful. Marie (Coesens) is a 35-year-old happily married to Francois (Bompoil) with a 2-year-old son (Rossi) and maybe another on the way. She sells encyclopaedias door-to-door and one day meets Bill (Todd), a big, black American whose unusual manner slowly seduces her. Soon she's having a full-blown affair, unsure why but enjoying it nonetheless. And knowing that someday it will all blow up in her face.

Director-cowriter Wagon creates an edgy, realistic film that stares infidelity in the face. It's hard-as-nails, but the honesty of its characters and situations helps make it startlingly touching as it examines Marie's behaviour--selfishness combined with frailty, needs blurred by desire, contentment intertwined with restlessness. The performances are very strong as well--this is very much an actor's film, as it all exists in the subtle twitch of a face and the microscopic interplay between the characters. Todd is the most difficult, as we never quite understand what makes Bill tick, and he persists in being slightly off-kilter, which makes him both fascinating and a little scary! It's lucky that the film is so well made, because barely a half hour into it we begin to suspect that it's going to end in one of those infuriating scenes of French ambiguity (no comment). But regardless of how it ends, the story touches so many nerves that it's definitely worth the journey.
adult themes and situations, language, nudity cert 18 9.Aug.01

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