Just a Sigh
Alix (Emmanuelle Devos) is on a train to Paris to audition for an acting job, and while on board she catches the eye of Doug (Gabriel Byrne). They glance nervously, then stare longingly, and before long it's time to get off the train, and he's asking her for directions to a nearby church. They part ways, she goes to the audition, and then in a spur of a moment decision, heads to the church that Doug is at. Wandering into a funeral, she once again catches his eye, and the couple embark on an interesting, off-kilter day together.
Basically, Just A Sigh feels like a reconstruction of the meet-cute / love-affair-with-a-time-limit from Before Sunrise, but with much older, more awkward characters. It wants you to fall in love with its uncomfortable realism, but fails due to the couple's complete lack of chemistry. Byrne is many things, but a viable object of desire he is not, with his supposed lustful looks coming across vaguely homicidal. Devos' character falls into similar problems, smacking of desperation and borderline stalker-y behaviour instead of adorably persistent.
While it is interesting to see a side to these kind of scenarios without the other-worldly beautiful actors we'd normally find in these roles, and with the two actors aged in their 50's and 60's, there is some glee to be found in the fact that no matter how old you are, when it comes to love and lust, those tenuous first steps are never easy. As always, Paris is just as cinematic as ever, and when she's not sharing a scene with Byrne, Devos acts up a storm.
But the movie asks too much of the viewer. We know she's in a relationship, but we shouldn't judge her for wanting to cheat. There are endless scenes of the two of them just looking at each other, expecting us to fill in the meaning of their silence, but they play the scenes so blankly that it's impossible to tell what they're thinking. And anytime they kiss, they look like two distant cousins forced into making out in front of a camera.
A will-they-won't-they romance that you truly won't care about, either way.
Review by Rory Cashin | 14:16 | Tuesday 26th November 2013 | Movie Review