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aka - Ma Saison Préférée
France 1993
Directed by
Andre Téchiné
122 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

My Favorite Season

Andre Téchiné's Ma Saison Préférée has very much the mainstream French art-house look about it and with it attractive provincial setting and Catherine Deneuve and Daniel Auteuil it is thoroughly paradigmatic of the style. Even so, it is a probing and well-crafted depiction of family relationships French-style  - which means dissatisfied people persistently working out their angst on each other.
Deneuve plays Emilie, a lawyer and Auteuil, her estranged, abrasive doctor  brother, Antoine. The illness of their aging mother, Berthe (Marthe Villalonga), who has come to live with her inspires Emilie to invite her brother to Christmas dinner. For reasons not entirely clear except perhaps  sexually-motivated jealousy Antoine resents Emilie’s husband as a buffoon and, despite his best efforts, ends the night having a fight with him which in turns brings to a head Emilie’s dissatisfaction with her own life. She leaves her husband and moves in with Antoine who wants to rediscover the happiness of their younger years together.  
The screenplay by Téchiné is the core of the film’s success as it explores the tortured humanity of the brother and sister, deeply bonded to each other despite their conflicting personalities.  Deneuve is marvellous as the cool, repressed sister. Although this character is her stock-in-trade she imbues Emilie with an subtle, guarded warmth and vulnerability that is captivating.  Auteuil, a good actor who has made too many forgettable cheque-book films, does a fine job here although perhaps the device of making him a neurosurgeon is a tad forced (though it does allow for some amusing lines about the causes of human behaviour)  The support cast, which includes the real-life daughter of Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni, Chiara Mastroianni, as Emilie’s daughter, Anne, are uniformally well-drawn.
Ma Saison Préférée a worthy addition to a crowded category of French family drama films.
DVD Extras: None

Available from: Madman




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