cinema in full

In the beautiful comedy “Petite Leçon d’amour”, a letter brings together two characters to whom everything is opposed. From Ernst Lubitsch to Guillaume Nicloux, cinema has often used correspondence as a dramatic spring.

He settles down in a brasserie and notices, forgotten on a bench, a bundle of copies. And right in the middle, a high school girl’s love letter to her teacher. If she doesn’t answer her before the next day, she will kill herself, she writes her. Ah, the bastard: she takes advantage of her authority to bribe a student!

Mad with rage, Julie (Laetitia Dosch) finds the seducer. Not at all the idea she had. Mathieu (Pierre Deladonchamps) is canceled, on the verge of divorce, vaguely alcoholic, suddenly disturbed by his students and totally outraged at the idea of ​​passing for a perverse Don Juan … Julie convinces him to find, before he is too late , the teenager in love: such is the pleasant observation of Little lesson of love (in cinemas from May 4th).

Ève Deboise (for which this is the second feature film after Lost paradise, in 2012) obviously knows the number one rule of American comedy: organizing a chase between two strictly opposing beings who put everything together without their knowledge. It illustrates it well. Certainly, Laetitia Dosch, more troubled than frantic, sometimes lacks the liveliness that Catherine Deneuve once demonstrated (in The savage) o Françoise Dorléac (a The man from Rio). On the other hand, with his Droopy airs, Pierre Deladonchamps, no doubt because he doesn’t try to be funny, he really becomes.

Cinema loves – as in Little lesson of love – of these letters lost, found, thrown away, forgotten … A brief reminder of some tragic or funny successes.

Marital chains, by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1949)

What a bitch, that Addie Ross! Just before embarking on a cruise of a few hours, her three friends receive a letter from her: yes, she seduced the husband of one of them, yes, she will leave with him for a new life. But which? She doesn’t say it… The three women, therefore, will deepen their memories, their thoughts, their frustrations: everything that she has made them what they have become. Will it be the complex (Jeanne Crain), the ambitious (Ann Sothern) or the downgraded (Linda Darnell) who find themselves alone and abandoned? The letter – and the suspense it creates until the last sequences – allows the director to succeed in the terrifying representation of a bourgeois, patriarchal and paranoid America. Women’s liberation is still a long way off. McCarthyism is lurking …

Three women, played by Ann Sothern, Linda Darnell and Jeanne Crain, receive a letter from their friend Addie Ross announcing her departure with the husband of one of them.

20th Century Fox

“The Crow”, by Henri-Georges Clouzot (1943)

Clouzot is as ferocious with France as Mankiewicz with America. One fine day, anonymous letters invade a French town, revealing the intolerance and stupidity of its inhabitants. Moreover, if Dr. Germain (Pierre Fresnay) is particularly targeted by the “crow”, it is because he is guilty, according to the good of the time, of a double fault: being an abortionist and going to bed with a handicapped person – played by Ginette Leclerc… The director’s audacity turns against him: collaborating critics beat him up. And at the Liberation, the communist Georges Sadoul sees in the film the perverse influence of Mein Kampf (!). Today, The crow it has become something of a prophetic classic. And we are waiting – but it seems to drag on – the Clouzot 2022 that will vigorously kill even the anonymous hatred constantly aired on some uncontrolled social networks …

In “Le Corbeau”, Dr. Germain is targeted by anonymous letters.

In “Le Corbeau”, Dr. Germain is targeted by anonymous letters.

Continental

“The Story of Adèle H.”, by François Truffaut (1975)

She writes to this man who runs away from her but followed to Halifax: “Albert, my love, our separation has broken me. Since you left, I’ve thought about you every day and I knew you were in pain too. “ She writes to her father, Victor Hugo, to announce her upcoming wedding, which is totally imaginary. She writes to herself: “I no longer have jealousy. I have no more pride. I won pride. Not being able to have the smile of love, I will be satisfied with her grimace. “ And with a prostitute as a gift, he notes in a hastily scribbled note for his beloved: ” Albert, my love, look at the young woman I am sending you. If you find her pretty, keep her with you all night … You are so beautiful, Albert, that you deserve to have all the women on earth … Adèle Hugo’s letters serve as lures, shelters, traps, buoys. Ridiculous guarantees in the face of the passion – crazy, ultimately useless – that devours it. Adèle H is Isabelle Adjani in one of her – rare, too rare – great films.

Adèle Hugo, played by Isabelle Adjani, writes to her father and her beloved who runs away from her.

Adèle Hugo, played by Isabelle Adjani, writes to her father and her beloved who runs away from her.

Photo Bernard Prim / Associated artists / Les Films du Carrosse

“Valley of Love”, by Guillaume Nicloux (2015)

“I died on March 24 at 4pm. My friend was out. I killed myself, it was planned. I’ll be back the week of November 12 and we’ll meet again, we promise. I will be in one of the seven locations in Death Valley. Wait for me. This is the letter they receive and they both honor this appointment. He, Gérard (Gérard Depardieu), grumbles because he’s fat and hot in this scorching Death Valley. She, Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert), as if waiting, softly, as a sign of acceptance. Writing, with Guillaume Nicloux, is a mystery – as we said, in the Middle Ages, of theatrical representations invented around faith. We are on the border between unreasonableness and the inexplicable. Between Jacques Tourneur and Andreï Tarkovski, to put it bluntly: pure fantasy or link between earth and sky.

Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert) and Gérard (Gérard Depardieu) travel to Death Valley, honoring an appointment fixed with a farewell letter.

Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert) and Gérard (Gérard Depardieu) travel to Death Valley, honoring an appointment fixed with a farewell letter.

Photo Malerie MARDER – Les Films du Worso – LGM Cinema

“The shop around the corner”, by Ernst Lubitsch (1940)

In the leather shop where they work, Klara (Margaret Sullavan) and Alfred (James Stewart) hate each other, argue, challenge each other. How could she have known that this annoying little boss writes her, the rest of the mail, letters that make her turn upside down? How could he guess that this insufferable minx is the one whose letters, bright and tender, troubled him? Lubitsch’s art consists in extricating himself, little by little, from his two heroes from the bubble – literary – in which they are confined, and in making reality, ultimately, resemble their dream … Long ignored, this jewel has had an unexpected triumph in France, when it was reprized in theaters in the 80s. In America it was, unfortunately, the victim of a remake of Nora Ephron, with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (You have a message, 1998). Weird idea: doing Lubitsch without Lubitsch!

Even Klara (Margaret Sullavan) and Alfred (James Stewart), who hate each other, are unwittingly immersed in a heartbreaking exchange of letters.

Even Klara (Margaret Sullavan) and Alfred (James Stewart), who hate each other, are unwittingly immersed in a heartbreaking exchange of letters.

Everett / Aurimages

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