I watched another foreign flick this weekend, this time it was the French Les temps qui changent/Changing Times. Gerard Depardieu plays a man who remains single most of his life. He searches out his first love after thirty years, telling her that he has waited for her all these years, afraid of how she would respond to him. He is undeterred when he finds that she is married and has a son.
Despite the central theme of “one’s first love becoming the last love,” the movie is utterly devoid of the kind of sappy nostalgia one would anticipate from this plot, which I appreciated. However, the pendulum swings too far in the other direction, with Catherine Deneuve’s character lacking the depth of emotion that she would require to be credible. She seems so hardened by her day-to-day life, apparently dissatisfied with most aspects of it, including her work, and she has long ago fallen out of love with her husband. While many of her lines are admirably feminist in their stance, they seem almost formulaic, rather than coming from the character she plays.
The numerous immigrants shown in this film are often treated as props for the main story, and this, I felt was the major failing of this otherwise complex film. Though there are brief glimpses into their lives, and a few immigrant lovers who are given a longer treatment, the lack of character development leads the immigrants in this film to be relegated to the realms of exotic, dark, mysterious, and perhaps most disappointing: unfortunate. All of which, needless to say, play to stereotypes of immigrants and do little to foster a more tolerant society. Ah, yes, Alice, you say, that is what makes you a social scientist and not an art critic. But can’t I hold filmmakers to be socially responsible, too?
I shy away from horror movies entirely (they would feed my neuroses all too well). So, while some might be unperturbed by such graphic scenes, I was thoroughly shook up seeing my screen fill with the blood of a freshly slaughtered sheep, and the later scenes shot from inside a construction pit showing dirt falling on the camera lens just felt nauseating. On a more redeeming note, Angelique Kidjo’s voice on the soundtrack is angelic, bursting through its thinner scenes to give the movie an added layer of sensitivity.