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Gilles' Wife (2004)

Cast: Emmanuelle Devos, Emmanuelle Devos, Clovis Cornillac, more...
Director: Frederic Fonteyne, Frederic Fonteyne
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Studio: Koch Lorber Films
Genre: Drama, Foreign, France
Running Time: 103 min.
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Synopsis
A woman struggles to hold on to the man she loves in this drama set in the 1930s from Belgian filmmaker Frédéric Fonteyne. Elisa (Emmanuelle Devos) is a housewife who is passionately devoted to her husband, Gilles (Clovis Cornillac), who works in a steel mill. Despite taking care of twin daughters and unfailingly seeing to the cooking and cleaning in their home, Elisa is as adoring of Gilles as she was on the day they met, and she eagerly tends to his ravenous sexual appetite. However, while most men would be thrilled to have a wife like Elisa, after years of marriage she begins to suspect that he might be having an affair with her sister Victorine (Laura Smet) while Elisa is pregnant with their third child. Elisa is too much in love with Gilles to leave him, but while she can accept her husband's faults, neither she nor her husband are certain if this is a casual fling or a love affair that will put an end to their relationship. La Femme de Gilles (aka Gilles' Wife) was adapted from a novel by Madeleine Bourdouxhe. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

The Perils of Pampering Your Man by talltale August 20, 2006 - 11:55 AM PDT
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3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Belgian filmmaker Frederick Fonteyne's GILLES' WIFE follows his very different but equally worthwhile "A Pornographic Affair" ("An Affair of Love" here in the U.S., since marketing to a classy audience is still a bit tricky). His new film stars that luminous--and a little bizarre--actress Emmanuelle Devos ("Read My Lips," "Kings & Queen"), the interesting but not much seen on these shores French actor Clovis Cornillac and Laura Smet (Chabrol's "The Bridesmaid").

More a character study (and a damned good one) than anything else, the movie traces the time when a seemingly happy wife discovers her husband is cheating on her. The character's reaction to this is as peculiar as it is believable, given the utterly convincing performances and the measured, assured direction (and co-writing) of M. Fonteyne. Without doing more than simply telling his story, the filmmaker addresses the role and place of man and woman (the film is set in small-town France shortly before WWII) and the perils of repression and displaced aggression.

This is a gloriously beautiful film to view: Fonteyne and his cinematographer Virginie Saint-Martin capture everything--from the changing seasons to the texture and feel of dirt, wood, rain, fabric and all else--with amazing clarity. Mostly, though, it is Devos and Cornillac who draw us into their increasingly untenable situation and simply do not let us go until it is played out.




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