If you can’t be with the one you love honey, love the one you’re with.Crosby, Stills, Nash
These words flashed to mind in the final moments of Love Affair(s) but the film portrays many types of love — desire, lust, contented, loyal, unrequited, self-less.
Love Affair(s) peels away multiple storylines – all of which come together in the second half of the film. Be patient with the set up and the lengthy dialogue scenes to fully appreciate what is to come.
Maxime (Niels Schneider) gets off the train from Paris, arriving in a small patch of heavenly countryside. He is visiting his uncle Francois (Vincent Macaigne), seeking solitude to kickstart his novel writing. Called away for work, Francois sends his pregnant girlfriend Daphne (Camélia Jordana) to meet Maxime and keep him entertained until he returns. She ponders how she will keep Maxime occupied for the duration. When he comments on his recent break-up, Daphne’s coaxing of him into talking about it will open the floodgates.
As they sightsee like tourists, Maxime regales his heartache of unrequited love for Sandra (Jenna Thaim), a carefree soul who tolerates no fool. When she meets Maxime’s best friend, Gaspard (Guillaume Gouix), sparks fly from their radically different political and social views. The sparks quickly turn into burning desire, and Maxime is marked for disappointment when Gaspard and Sandra move in together. Adding further salt into the wound, they invite Maxime to live with them in their new apartment. He agrees and the self punishment begins, except for one night when Gaspard is away, Maxime and Sandra’s loneliness get the better of them. Are they on for real?
Daphne is an able listener and as Maxime has been so candid, she too relates her own tales of woe. Was Francois her first real love, or was it a tutor she yearned for who would eventually stab her through the heart? Francois happened along at the right time to embrace her in his unconditional puppy love.
The story transitions into an examination of Francois’ marriage with Louise (Émilie Dequenne) and changes tack again, to study Louise’s melancholic act of saving face when her life is falling apart. This same device threads the narrative through each of the couples’ predicaments, adding further flavour to the growing connection between Maxime and Daphne.
Love Affair(s) is a well crafted film; one or two of the performances come off a little awkward, but all in all undeniably deserving of the 13 nominations at this year’s Cesar Awards.
Love Affair(s) is showing as part of the 2021 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival from 17 March to 13 April 2021. Check your local guides for screening times.
About Love Affair(s)
Length: 122 mins
Language: French with English subtitles
Written and directed by Emmanuel Mouret
Stars Camelia Jordana, Niels Schneider, Emilie Dequenne, Vincent Macaigne, Guillaume Gouix