After directing three highly successful films based on the novels by Marcel Pagnol ( La Fille du Puisatier and Maruis and Fanny) Daniel Auteuil again steps behind the camera for Amoureuse de Ma Femme sharing top billing himself with the formidable Gerard Depardieu and the hugely watchable Sandrine Kiberlain (Comme un Avion, Floride ), Expectations run high for this adaptation of a play by Florian Zeller, best-known to international audiences for his award winning The Father. All the more disappointing to see this banal, lacklustre adaptation which is cringingly out-of-date on so many levels. The film reeks of misogyny thinly disguised behind the manners and respectability of the French bourgoisie. And Auteuil offers nothing new or original on the take of a middle-aged man willing to sacrifice his lifestyle and marriage at the mere sight of a beautiful young woman. Auteuil plays with truth and reality in long scenes based on his character’s dream of running away from his dutiful wife and enviable life, but this only drags out the film which at barely one and a half hours length already seems too long.
Daniel (Auteuil) invites his long-standing friend Patrick (Depardieu) to dinner so he and his wife (Kiberlain) can meet Patrick’s new girlfriend. From the moment he sets eyes on the gorgeous Emma (Adriana Ugarte), Daniel indulges in a series of fantasies which involve the Spanish beauty, forty years his junior, falling passionately and improbably in love with him – a fantasy he barely conceals during the dinner from his wife and friend.
It’s hard to believe Zeller, who is in his late-thirties, could write a play built around such an over-used view of a male mid-life crisis. Auteuil, himself in his late sixties, is perhaps not best-placed to put a fresh spin on events. At a time when the film Industry is going through a period of soul-searching over the treatment of women, this sexist, stereotyped film is a huge let-down. Auteuil played Daniel on stage and is no newcomer to on-screen adaptations of his successful plays most notably, Nos Femmes. This film starring Richard Berry and Thierry L’Hermitte displayed the light comic touch and self parody sadly lacking here. Kiberlaine works hard to create drama and tension, but even she fails to breath life into this drab affair