Mademoiselle Chambon (NC)

Starring: Vincent Lindon, Sandrine Kiberlain
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The Independent Culture

Stéphane Brizé, who made the superb Not Here To Be Loved (2005), presents another study in thwarted love that relocates the spirit of Brief Encounter to provincial France.

Vincent Lindon plays a steady, unassuming builder who falls helplessly for his young son's schoolteacher (Sandrine Kiberlain), just in time for his unsuspecting wife to tell him she's pregnant with their second child. Brizé keeps the script lean but offers his two leads the space and time to wring maximum feeling – mostly of regret – from their fraught silences. It's hard to recall a film of so many haunting looks and agonised glances. And where Brief Encounter raised the roof with wild Rachmaninov, this chooses a modest piece of Elgar, played on the violin (heartbreakingly) by the schoolmarm. Unusually, the film is decent enough not to patronise the third party, the builder's wife (Aure Atika), who late on gets a quiet scene of recognition and decides, heroically, to keep her own counsel. A must-see.

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