Brizé: redeeming tango
by Vitor Pinto
Yesterday's screening of Je ne suis pas là pour être aimé ('I am not here to be loved'), by Stéphane Brizé, in competition for the Golden Shell (Concha d'Oro) at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, was a real success. The director, whose first feature, Le Bleu des Villes, was selected in Cannes (Directors' Fortnight 1999), impressed the public and the critics with this melancholic comedy of great emotional simplicity.
Here, tango stands as a metaphor for the passion which has left the characters' lives. It also allows Jean-Claude (Patrick Chesnais) and Françoise (Anne Consigny) to meet. Both have always made uncontroversial choices and done what their families expected them to do, but now that Françoise is about to get married, she is not so sure she can resign herself to it, while Jean-Claude is tired of having to deal with his son, who works in his business (despite a complete lack of vocational inclination), and his father (who has always hidden his feelings for his son).
Unlike many sentimental comedies, the script, co-written by the director and Juliette Sales, depicts a slow romantic process with unexpected subtlety, as if the love story was not the focus of the narration. The father-son relationship actually takes a much more tragic dimension than expected, which enhances the intensity of the whole film and keeps it from easy sentimentalism. 'I wanted to show that behind each man, there is a child hurting from an old and long-lasting pain,' said Stéphane Brizé during the press conference. 'The story does not end well, since the father never tells his son he is proud of him. And it is only when the son is losing his father that he realises he was loved,' the director added.
In spite of what the title says, Brizé's film is 'here to be loved'. It is probably the most beautiful, the most funny and moving film of the official selection presented so far in San Sebastian.
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