Amazing Couple, An (France/Belgium; 97 min.)

directed by: Lucas Belvaux
starring: Ornella Muti; François Morel; Valérie Mairesse
Un couple épatant

Barbara says: "I really liked this movie and after seeing it was able to look back at ON THE RUN and think better of it. After seeing ON THE RUN Mary, Tim and I all sort of went 'Huh?' Of the two AN AMZING COUPLE is my favorite. It will be interesting to see the third part next week. I thought Alain was a riot (maybe I was just in the mood to laugh) but my favorite character is Cecile. She’s just enough without going over the top. Oddly, the character I dislike the most is Agnes. She makes my skin crawl."

"As an aside, I don’t know if it was just good camera work or seeing it in a small theater such as The Brattle but during the car chase in ON THE RUN I felt as though I was in the back seat."

Diane says: "The romantic comedy part of Belvaux's trilogy. The concept reminded me
of Alan Ayckborn's "Norman Conquests" trilogy (a weekend seen three times from three different rooms in the house) that was on TV in the '70s.

"I was fairly bored by AN AMAZING COUPLE. Maybe I was more in the mood for the thriller last night.... Nevertheless, I will see AFTER LIFE because I just can't believe that that cop turns into a sympathetic character!

And in response to Barbara: "I'm with you on the Agnes character, Barbara. Three short appearances (?) and she has quite an impact. I can't imagine why Cecile is friends with her. And to think we are going to a movie next week featuring the two most horrible characters!"


Michael says: "Here's a cinematic event that all Chlotrudis members should definitely try to see. Opening next Friday at the Brattle, French director Lucas Belvaux' trillogy of films, ON THE RUN, AN AMAZING COUPLE, and AFTER THE LIFE. In a unique and extremely succesful creation, Balvaux spins three separate films, each in its own genre, about the same characters during the same span of time. While each film is wonderfully realized on its own, so much more is attained by viewing all three. This is going to be a tricky one come nomination time!

"AN AMAZING COUPLE shifts gears sharply from a thriller (ON THE RUN) to a romantic comedy. This time the story centers on Cécile (a co-worker of Jeanne and Agnès) and her husband Alain. In classic a European farce the married couple blunder through a series of misunderstandings fed to riotous heights by Alain's paranoia. Cécile is the pillar of common sense and honesty, but even she slowly unravels as the plot becomes convoluted and the truth continues to elude the characters. Cécile hires Pascal to keep tabs on her husband and find out the cause of his unusual behavior. At the same time, Claire, Alain's secretary, is bounced between the two in their attempts to uncover the truth. While Alain's imaginings involve complex plots between the characters, it soon becomes amazing just how much truly is going on in paralleln storylines that are only hinted at in this film.

"Ornella Muti as Cécile is the beautiful, bold center of AN AMAZING COUPLE, and we follow her frustration as all the rational explanations continue to be foiled by her husband's increasingly outlandish behavior. The continuing series of misunderstandings and shifting allegiances of supporting characters makes for a rollicking caper that is somehow, amazingly resolved by the closing credits. (Interestingly enough, Belvaux released AN AMAZING COUPLE first in Europe, while ON THE RUN was the U.S. distributor's choice to be released first.)" 4 1/2 cats

And in response to Diane: Well, I was hoping to hear from more Chlotrudis members about what they thought of the Trilogy so far.

"Strangely enough, taken individually, AN AMAZING COUPLE is my favorite. I just adore the character of Cecile. I loved the way when we first see her, she is elegant and composed, preparing for her husband's party, then little by little as things get crazier and crazier, she becomes more and more frazzled. Plus, by now, you must find the cop to be pretty reprehensible... just wait until AFTER THE LIFE, which focuses on he and his wife. Your opinions will change!"

And in response to Barbara: "Cecile is my favorite character as well. I think she's a wonderfully complex character, filled with such strength and conviction, yet so easily swayed by others. It's a character that works surprisingly well in the comedy, I think, and just as well in the more serious films.

"However, Agnes is a close second, and I think both she and her husband will really come to life for you in AFTER THE LIFE, since it's their story, and focuses on their relationship. She's a very complex character as well, and their story is beautifully told in a melodrama style.

"Even though ON THE RUN was my least favorite of the three, I think Belvaux did an amazing job with the conventions of the thriller (as he did with each of the genres). The opening scene in ON THE RUN, when Bruno is escaping and we have a black screen with only sounds is unbelievably tense. Her really kept me on the edge of my seat. A
director to watch, in my opinion."

Bruce says: "Lucky for me, Michael Colford suggested I start the Belvaux Trilogy with AN AMAZING COUPLE (a comedy). Although ON THE RUN (a crime drama/thriller) was shown first in this country I cannot imagine feeling the same about the Trilogy had I started with that film. No matter which of these two you may see first, the third film in the Trilogy should be AFTER THE LIFE (a melodrama) which seen before either of the others would ruin the story and not make as much sense.

"Each of the three films covers several days in the life of numerous characters who live in Grenoble, a city in Southeastern France. The first film focuses on a birthday party Cécile Costes throws for her husband Alain. Jeanne and Agnès who work with Cécile are there as is Georges, the family physician. The second film, ON THE RUN, involves Bruno, a former revolutionary who has recently escaped prison. He is being pursued by Pascal, a detective who is the husband of Agnès. Bruno knew Jeanne in their youth and meets Agnès quite by chance. Agnès hides Bruno at Cécile’s chateau. The third film revolves around the marriage of Pascal and Agnès as Pascal doggedly hunts down Bruno.

"Belvaux treats the scenes in his films as though they were parts of a giant jigsaw puzzle. That, of course, is the fun of it. Personally I feel that the whole is greater than the individual parts and I would doubt if any one of the three films would have remained in its present condition had Belvaux for some reason been restricted to release only one of them. Each film share scenes with the other two. Each film leaves out parts that are essential to comprehending the larger picture.

"Now back to AN AMAZING COUPLE. Cécile (Ornella Muti) has made elaborate plans to surprise her husband Alain (François Morel) on his birthday with the help of Claire (Valérie Mairesse), Alain’s secretary who is also a family friend. Everyone is assembled but Alain does not arrive as planned. We know where he is but Cécile does not. Alain is sure he is going to die because Georges has told him he must have routine surgery. In his attempt to be matter-of-fact about the whole thing Georges has inadvertently led Alain to believe that he is hiding the truth, which in Alain’s mind could only be knowledge of a fatal illness or condition.

"When Alain finally shows up at the party, he makes up a story that he had to drive Claire home. When Claire pops out from behind the furniture and draperies with the other guests, he changes the story to include a car accident. By this time Cécile is convinced he is having an affair. Agnès (Dominique Blanc) faints at the party. When Pascal (Gilbert Melki) comes to get her Cécile convinces Pascal to follow her husband and catch him red-handed. Meanwhile, we learn there has been a prison break and a dangerous man is at large.

"François Morel, a French David Schwimmer, is bumbling and convincing as a man who thinks he is near his death. This film, however, belongs to Ornella Muti who begins the film with great confidence about who she is and what she is doing to a fearful and gullible scorned woman. It is quite a transition. Gilbert Melki imbues Pascal with a weary, sinister air. It spite of usually heavy handed topics – infidelity, terminal illness, escaped prisoners – the film would be best described as a madcap farce, an extraordinary accomplishment one can only appreciate upon viewing the remaining two films in the Trilogy. 4 cats