A modern BRIEF ENCOUNTER with a French accent, LOVE AFTER LOVE features a smart, chic performance by Isabelle Huppert, but otherwise remains surprisingly tedious, for all the tortured love triangles it depicts.
The story begins in contemporary Paris, and focuses on the affairs of a writer named Lola (Huppert). She lives with successful architect David (Bernard Giraudeau), but she falls in love with Tom (Hippolyte Girardot), an aspiring musician she meets at a book signing. The tense triangle is
complicated by the fact that both David and Tom have families living in the city. David supports Marianne (Lio) and their two small boys, while Tom remains married to Elisabeth (Laure Killing), and helps raise their two children. Although Lola and David are open about their liaison, Tom tries to
keep his romance with Lola a secret from Elisabeth.
After the Christmas holidays, Tom invites Lola to Pompeii, but their vacation is cut short when Elisabeth arrives unexpectedly, confronting Lola about the affair. Tom leaves Italy with his wife, while Lola decides to return to David in Paris. Just as Lola and David plan to reunite, however,
Marianne fights with David about his affair with Lola, causing him to take his children to Lola's apartment. Marianne then attempts suicide, which prompts David and the boys to return to her side. Finally, Tom tells Lola that Elisabeth is now conducting an affair of her own. When he asks Lola to
take him to see his wife in the arms of her lover, Lola realizes that Tom still loves Elisabeth. Lola leaves Tom for good. Later, at the wedding of Romain (Yvan Attal), David's brother, she tells Romain that she is pregnant with David's baby. A short time later, at her birthday party, Lola tells
David about the baby and they reunite.
Diane Kurys' best and best-known works (PEPPERMINT SODA, 1977, ENTRE NOUS, 1982) have provided well-developed roles for accomplished actresses. In LOVE AFTER LOVE, Kurys foregrounds another solid, well-written female role; unfortunately, however, she surrounds her protagonist with far less
interesting characters and situations. The best thing about LOVE AFTER LOVE is Isabelle Huppert's performance. In the type of role associated with Catherine Deneuve (in long shots, with her odd pageboy hairstyle, Huppert even resembles Deneuve), Huppert acquits herself superbly, endowing Lola with
class and intelligence. Huppert is totally convincing, for example, in her scenes as an author struggling with writer's block. It is notoriously difficult to make the writing profession come alive on screen, but Huppert and Kurys manage it with great style. In one particularly good sequence, Lola
imagines David and herself acting out a passage she is composing for her latest work: in one take, the camera tilts from the black-and-white fantasy on her balcony to the actual Lola writing in pen and ink--in color! The love affairs, however, are much less engaging. The characters exchange
partners so often that the narrative threatens to become a farcical sexual roundelay; there is even a scene set in a greenhouse toward the end that quotes RULES OF THE GAME. For the most part, however, Kurys chooses to treat each affair with a sober "sensitivity" that is rarely deserved or
desired. (In many ways, the central triangle--Lola, Tom, and David--recalls the three-way affair in Otto Preminger's DAISY KENYON (1947), which also centered on a talented career woman who had to choose between two lovers, neither of whom seemed adequate.) To Kurys' credit (she co-wrote the
screenplay with Antoine Lacomblez), LOVE AFTER LOVE shows the consequences of the various characters' decisions, including the effect of the parents' selfish acts on their children's lives. On the other hand, this naturalistic approach makes the tidy, happy ending feel all the more forced and
Despite the somber tone, LOVE AFTER LOVE is a pretty film to look at. Tony Egry's stylish set designs and Fabio Conversi's smooth location photography of both Paris and Pompeii lend a sophisticated veneer to the production. If only the writing could have been as interesting as the pictorials.
Perhaps the director should have listened more to her leading character, who, during one reflective moment, sighs, "A bit of humor wouldn't hurt." (Nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: A modern BRIEF ENCOUNTER with a French accent, LOVE AFTER LOVE features a smart, chic performance by Isabelle Huppert, but otherwise remains surprisingly tedious, for all the tortured love triangles it depicts. The story begins in contemporary Paris, an… (more)