A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
Someone once said that Yves Montand seemed born to play doomed European leftwing intellectuals. And so he has, most memorably in “Z” and “La Guerre Est Finie,” and against the type in “State of Siege.” But nothing in those films could possibly prepare us for the loud, gentle, awkward, jealous, childlike, impulsive Montand of Claude Sautet’s “Cesar and Rosalie.”
The movie tells a love story of sorts, or a love-hate story, and even if it does lose its way toward the end it presents not one but two unusually good performances: by Montand, as a scrap-metal dealer with international connections, and by Romy Schneider as the woman who loves him sometimes and lives with him sometimes, not always at the same sometimes.
The movie opened earlier this year at the Playboy, but I was out of town or something (can’t remember what) and by the time I was ready to catch up with it, it had closed. Now it’s back for a short run starting Friday at the Wilmette, and perhaps it will return in the reasonable future to a few other area theaters. It’s too pleasing a movie not to review, anyway.
It’s the sort of thing the French, with their appreciation for the awesome complexities of a simple thing like love, do especially well. American movies tend to treat love as a vast magic spell; if you’re in love nothing else matters and you’re surrounded by your own special miracle, etc. And you’re also young, of course. Movies about the loves of older people - Montand’s age, for example - tend to be comedies revolving about absurd domestic situations.