Do you as the viewer ever watch that movie that you feel due to overwhelming popular opinion you should like? Unfortunately, I run into this all too often. Most of the time I’m able to push that aside, and give an honest review. Sometimes it is harder. Private Fears in Public Places directed by Alain Resnais is one of those movies. Set in Paris (with language to match); this puts six lonely characters in search of love during the harsh winter season. However, what they find isn’t what they were searching for. Naturally these characters’ stories intertwine and we get a whole lot of snow effects which encapsulate the end of each scene (and each part of this review).
The movie starts out with Thierry (played by André Dussollier), a realtor who is showing Nicole (played by Laura Morante) various flats in attempting to find one that will suit her and her fiancée. Her fiancée; Dan (played by Lambert Wilson) drinks his life away at a local hotel bar since he is between jobs. He is served by Lionel (played by Pierre Arditi), a bartender who must consistently get new caretakers to care for his elderly father. Thierry’s assistant is Charlotte (played by Sabine Azéma) who also doubles as the nighttime caretaker to Lionel’s father. Her story is entertaining as being a devout Christian but with a secret side. Finally, Thierry’s sister; Gaëlle (played by Isabelle Carré) spends her nights searching for love by going out on blind dates. (*snow effect*).
The acting is pretty decent throughout the movie especially in nod to the two male lead characters: Dussollier and Wilson. There is no weak areas I can really find but the movie is just several shades of depressing. Sure there is some excitement and things do look up at certain events through the movie but by the end it comes to a crashing halt and you wonder what’s the point. They do everything short of having the entire crew getting run over by a bus to give us any hope at this thing we call love. I’m a very strong believer in true love and watching this turned me momentarily into something less than that. I watch movies to escape not to re-live every failed courtship or bad relationship I’ve ever had. (*snow effect*).
We get the 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen treatment for this film. With all of the environmental effects of snow; it gives it a nice cheery view and a very pretty movie. Good quality; all of the actors and actresses look clean and even when the background is bland, the film video wise does not. (*snow effect*).
Sound is provided in 5.1 Dolby Digital (French only). Since this is a dialog driven movie; there is little importance in surround type effects. The sound stays up front but that dialog is very clear. I think I was even picking up a few French words as each scene went on. Subtitles are provided in English, Spanish, & English SDH.
Automatic Trailers – Penelope, My Best Friend, Snow Cake, After the Wedding & Russian Dolls.
Nothing else. I feel sad. (that was the movie, not necessarily the lack of extras). No commentary, no featurette, just more snow effects (*snow effect*, would you quit?!)
In a film where every scene is transitioned by a snow effect; I feel at a loss. Sure the acting is strong and there is nothing really bad to be said about the film. But even romantic comedies should have moments of excitement. What we end up getting is a very dull film. The ending is nothing short of making you question the point of love or trying to find it. The dvd has a very good video and audio presentation but is completely devoid of any extras. Some people will love this film, others as mentioned will fall asleep within 30 minutes. I applaud the work done by the actors but can’t find myself ever watching this again. So in that respect, I leave this review and try to find the meaning of love once more (*snow effect*).
DVD Verdict’s Judge Saylor – “…In the hands of old pro Resnais, screenwriter Jean-Michel Ribes (adapting Alan Ayckbourn’s play), and the small but talented cast, this film is a near-total success.”