Empty Days | Chicago Reader

Empty Days

A working-class housewife looking for a job (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and a manager who's just been laid off (Patrick Dell'Isola) meet by chance in a supermarket, and with time on their hands they become romantically involved in spite of themselves and their satisfactory marriages. In contrast to someone like Claude Lelouch, director Marion Vernoux dispenses with rapturous kisses and saccharine music to emphasize the affair's tawdriness and the bland, Americanized life of a French suburb where people are too dulled by daily chores to make emotional contact. But her approach is so understated (the lovers first recognize their feelings when their knees touch) that the relationship never seems like anything more than shared boredom. This 1999 film runs out of gas after Dell'Isola finds a new job, and only his and Bruni-Tedeschi's performances rescue it from trite kitchen-sink drama. 105 min.

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