French filmmaker Benoît Jacquot’s (La Désenchantée; Farewell, My Queen) stylish melodrama, screened in competition for the Golden Lion at Venice, stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Chiara Mastroianni as sisters in love with the same man (Benoît Poelvoorde) and the grande dame of French cinema, Catherine Deneuve as their mother (she is of course Mastroianni’s mother in real-life).
Tax inspector Marc (Poelvoorde) is in Valence for work and misses his train back to Paris. Meeting Sylvie (Gainsbourg) by chance, their attraction is immediate, and they spend the rest of the evening walking the streets before agreeing to meet again in the Tuileries.
But their reunion fails. Marc then meets antiques dealer Sophie (Mastroianni) but, pursuing her, he only discovers her connection to Sylvie far too late and must decide if or who to tell. Which sister does he most truly love? Will this secret break up the sisters?
Harking back to old-fashioned melodrama – Jacquot has previously acknowledged the influence of Douglas Sirk on his films – and evincing an almost thriller-like intensity, this is a deeply felt exploration of the vicissitudes of the heart and the distinction between love and passion.