La Repetition (2001)

“We need some distance.”

In “La Repetition” Nathalie (Emmanuelle Beart) and Louise (Pascale Bussieres) are inseparable childhood friends who both grow up with the intention of becoming actresses. A squabble leads to a serious division between them, and over time, they lose touch. Years later, Nathalie is now a famous actress in a relationship with a young stage director, Matthias (Dani Levy) , and Louise is an orthodontist who works with her husband. In spite of the fact they’ve had no contact for some time, Nathalie and Louise basically pick up their relationship where they left off. Soon, Louise ditches her husband, and with a flimsy excuse packs a suitcase and joins Nathalie on tour.

There’s a clear sense that the relationship between Nathalie and Louise has unhealthy overtones. Laden with desire with one another, there’s also a strong element of jealousy from Louise towards Nathalie–after all, Nathalie achieved her career goal–while Louise didn’t. And the jealousy brings a destructive element to the fore.

Unfortunately, while the film contains a sense of foreboding, the plot just doesn’t go far enough. Nathalie and Louise’s relationship is peppered with some very dark strains, and there’s a scene or two in the bedroom (an element of the relationship which is never discussed in the daylight), and Louise’s hatred for Nathalie never really goes anywhere. Nathalie is glamorous, temperamental, and an emotional disaster–whereas Louise’s emotional problems are subverted by a veneer of conservatism. The dark side of female relationships isn’t explored as much as hinted at. Consequently, this bland film tantalizes the viewer but leaves a slightly unsatisfied feeling when the credits roll. Directed by Catherine Corsini. In French with English subtitles.

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