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17 fois Cécile Cassard (2002)

Traumatised by the tragic death of her husband, C√©cile Cassard asks her friend Edith to take care of her infant son whilst she tries to piece her life back together. Following a suicide attempt, she finds herself in the seedier area of Toulouse. As she wanders the streets without purpose she encounters young men who are attracted towards her, but she is incapable of starting a relationship with anyone. Finally, she meets Matthieu, a young gay man who appears to offer her the promise of a new life…

Christophe Honoré had distinguished himself as a writer in France - of children's books, adult fiction and screenplays - before directing this, his first full-length film. In a dark exploration of the mystery of human emotions, this atmospheric film shows a grief-stricken woman descending into despair and then struggling to break free and start again. The film is staged and photographed with something close to the artistic genius of Cocteau, haunting and evocative, the aching sense of loss palpable in virtually every shot of its 17 memorable sequences.

In what is arguably her most demanding role since Beineix's flawed masterpiece 37¬į2 le matin. B√©atrice Dalle gives a convincing and intensely poignant portrayal of a woman driven to the edge of sanity by a cruel bereavement. She carries the film well and with well-judged subtlety, the emotion she conveys coming deep from within her, something which adds greatly to the film's depth and eerie dreamlike character.

The film also affords Romain Duris an opportunity to show his talent for playing complex, multi-faceted characters: in one scene he conveys grim torment with a harrowing intensity; in the next, he radiates warmth and vitality (his impersonation of Anouk Aimée is just so funny, so blisteringly ironic). The power of this masterfully composed visual elegy lies as much in the contributions from its cast as in its director's daring and remarkably effective narrative technique.

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Next Christophe Honoré film:
Ma mère (2004)

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Film Credits

  • Director: Christophe Honor√©
  • Script: Christophe Honor√©
  • Cinematographer: R√©my Chevrin
  • Music: Alex Beaupain
  • Cast: B√©atrice Dalle (C√©cile Cassard), Romain Duris (Matthieu), Jeanne Balibar (Edith), Ange Ruz√© (Erwan), Johan Oderio-Robles (Lucas), Tiago Mana√Įa (Tiago), J√©r√īme Kircher (Thierry), Julien Collet (St√©phane), J√©r√©my Sanguinetti (Julien), Marie Bunel (L'institutrice), Fabio Zenoni (L'homme du porche), Robert Cantarella (L'homme du cimeti√®re), Assaad Bouab (Le serveur), Lisa Lacroix (Natacha), Marie Laudes Emond (La boulang√®re), Pierre Mignard (L√©o)
  • Country: France
  • Language: French
  • Support: Color
  • Runtime: 105 min
  • Aka:Seventeen Times Cecile Cassard

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