If Un Amour Impossible had been an English-language film, it would likely be targeted for a platformed release right about now to maximize award season buzz. I was struck, almost instantly, by how similar this is to the Oscar-bait styled prestige pictures of today and yesterday, on par with the same sort of hollow, period piece trappings that you normally associate with the most irritating of prestige pictures. Think On the Basis of Sex, or J.Edgar in recent times.
The reason this struck me so vividly in the film’s early moments, stems from the initial scene, a beautifully rendered dance sequence wash in the dulcet tones of the 1950s. You could freeze frame any frame, and by simply looping a crackling record of store-bought variety over top, you would have the initial ingredients for a Ken Burns documentary. The film imminently announces its quality.
My issue isn’t with the film’s higher production quality, it’s with its inflated self-importance. This story of a young woman (Virginie Efira) falling in love with an emotionally abusive and charming man (Niels Scheider) is something you’ve seen countless times. In order to combat this, however, the film attaches it to the story of their child (Estelle Lescure and Jehnny Beth) trying to reconcile with the manipulative father. Stories about abandonment and broken families are, without a doubt, important. Here, however, it takes on the air of an after school special and falls flat.
Is the film good? These kinds of film’s usually are on a base technical level. But I personally didn’t enjoy Un Amour Impossible all that much. There are certainly some things to love, particularly the performance of Virginie Efira, but it’s far too close to the average prestige picture for my liking. It looks beautiful, but it rings hollow.