Paul (Daniel Auteuil) is living the good life; a well-respected neurosurgeon, rich in friends, and living in a beautiful house with his loving wife Lucie (Kristin Scott Thomas). One day, Paul begins to receive large bunches of red roses at his office and at home, and for days on end they continue arriving. He suspects it might be Lou (Leila Bekhti), a much younger former patient of his, and while trying to work out if she is his secret admirer, begins to fall for her.
hings start off well with Before The Winter Chill; bucking the usual trend of the husband keeping secrets from his wife, Paul tells Lucie everything. Things don't stay this interesting for very long though, and the entire affair ends up bizarrely uninvolving.


riter/director Phillipe Claudel litters the story with a lot of potential threads to pick up on, from international alienation to absent parents to mental health issues, but never seems to follow through on any of them. A supporting character gives a lengthy monologue about her family being killed by the Nazis, and while the tale is undoubtedly an interesting one, it doesn't seem to have any resonance to the rest of the film. Before The Winter Chill is full of moments like this; a new plot element is set-up, and you'll wait the entire length of the film for a pay-off that never arrives.
here is something to be said for telling the story of an affair to remains wholly non-physical – Can it be considered an affair if it's purely emotional? – and Auteuil and Scott Thomas both deliver fine performances, even if Auteuil has done pretty much this exact same role in Hidden, and Scott Thomas' character remains far too passive throughout. Then, just when things look like they’re going to stay eventless, a last act revelation arrives out of nowhere to knock the whole movie sideways, and is as confusing as it is surprising.
verall quite thoughtful and patient, Before The Winter Chill could've used a little more passion to help liven up proceedings.
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