Too Beautiful for You

“Your Schubert is a pain in the ass!” Gerard Depardieu declares at the end of Bertrand Blier's latest comedy drama about amour fou, remorse, and jealousy, meaning that the sadness of the music is more than he can bear. The problem is, in spite of all the stylishness that makes this one of Blier's most accomplished films, the fundamentally antiartistic attitude underlying it makes his Schubert a pain in the ass too, if only because this reading of the composer is so mechanical. Car dealer and garage owner Depardieu, married to a beauty (Carole Bouquet), falls madly in love with his plain-looking temporary secretary (Josiane Balasko), and, as in Blier's Get Out Your Handkerchiefs and Menage, the pain and irrationality of passionate love is the main bill of fare. What's different this time is that Blier tells the story in a highly fragmented, partially achronological and subjective manner—a bit like early Resnais, but without the radical implications, the beauty, or the accomplished writing that made Resnais' early features so remarkable. Flashbacks dovetail into fantasy sequences and flash-forwards function like reveries, with the camera gliding past dinner tables like a busy bee. It's not always easy to tell which scenes are “real” and and which ones imagined, but none of this matters very much in the long run. The results are a bit like the efforts of a journeyman prose writer to write poetry; despite a certain amount of surface dazzle, there's nothing more than a conventional Blier plot lurking underneath. With Roland Blanche, Francois Cluzet, and (you guessed it) lots of Schubert on the sound track (1989).

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