Today: February 22, 2024

Cesar et Rosalie

Cesar et Rosalie is a peculiar film.

Cesar
et Rosalie is a peculiar film.
It in parts trying
to be many different things at once. Romance. Middle-class drama. Gritty drama.
Comedy. Stalker thriller. Sailing movie. French new wave. Although obviously
infatuated with these genres Claude Sautet’s film fails to aspire to the
levels that it so wants to be.

Rosalie (Romy Schneider) is a
gorgeous divorcee with a small daughter. When not visiting her Mother and
siblings she lives with her current squeeze; Cesar (Yves Montand). A big
time scrap dealer and general eccentric, Cesar is the regular wheeler-dealer.
There is an obvious age gap between the pair but they seem hopelessly in love.
In steps David, a dashing young artist who just happens to be a former lover of
Rosalie, who still hankers some feelings for her. He seeks her out,
reintroduces himself and all the fond memories start flooding back. From there
on the trio’s relationships alter from man chasing woman to woman chasing man
and then back again. Contrived and unfulfilling Cesar et Rosalie is a film that
never threatens to get going, seemingly stuck in its smugness and self
righteousness.

This is really disappointing as Cesar
et Rosalie starts out fairly promising. Opening like a classic Godard film,
it feels quirky, erratic and has an amusing little synth soundtrack during the
first few scenes. Upon David’s arrival you kind of hope the film will go into Jules
et Jim
type territory where you are treated to a fun and heartfelt story
about a unique love triangle. After these openings exchanges though the film
quickly falls apart as it desperately experiments with different styles without
any real commitment to one. Saying that though the one real success of Cesar et
Rosalie is the cinematography of Jean Boffety. It definitely captures
that kitsch, tacky quality that existed in the 70’s . The colours look fake but
in a good way and remind you of the movies of Rainer Werner Fassbinder that
have a similar pigmentation. If Cesar et Rosalie was remade today the directors
like Wes Anderson or Aki Kaurismaki would be likely contenders to
helm the project. Their movies possess the same type of aesthetics that are on
show here.

The biggest problem that faces this
film is that the characters just aren’t very likeable or believable. They chase
each other around town with seemingly little reason or cause. Things happen and
everyone gets quite cross but when the next scene starts all is forgotten. This
happens throughout the film and you get very little clue to the objectives or motives
of the characters. Everybody is horribly undeveloped. You get small
inclinations to these individuals interests but it just seems to be nothing
more than filler. Quite why they desire each other or are happy in one
another’s company is completely unclear. Only Yves Montand resembles a man
trying to make things work and as a result makes Cesar quite endearing, even
though he is for the most part, the villain of the piece.

Cesar et Rosalie may have an audience
amongst couples wanting a bit more from a romance film than your standard
rom-com but even then they will probably be slightly underwhelmed. Funnily
enough another French film is being released on Blu-ray this week; Casque
d’Or
. Although not a strict romance, it manages to say more about love than
Cesare et Rosalie does and it achieves that in a much shorter running time.
Overall Cesar et Rosalie is a frustrating and generally flat film that never
really had much going for it in the first place.

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