In Un plus une you’ll find passion, spirituality and two people’s journey through India
Antoine loves to ask himself the questions no one ever seems to ask themselves. Like where did the swallows land before electric wires were invented? This is a daily routine for Un plus une’s French protagonist.
After more than 40 films since 1961, including Un homme et une femme(1966), L’aventure c’est l’aventure (1972) and Les uns et les autres (1981), famous French director Claude Lelouch proves he is far from out of breath by offering this invigorating and realistic vaudeville.
He’s in love with a pianist and she’s married to an ambassador. He’s very down to earth and she’s all about spirituality. Anna and Antoine have nothing in common, and yet…
A film composer who’s freshly in love, Antoine Abélard flies to India to collaborate with a director from the Indian new wave, Raul Abi, on his latest film, titled Juliette and Romeo. After being introduced to Anna, the wife of the French ambassador, and a life-changing country, India, Antoine will find the prejudices he holds challenged, one at a time.
“To love is to love someone else more than you love yourself.” Antoine slowly learns to let go of his unbearable yet attractive selfishness by illustrating little by little this quote from Lelouch’s press interview on his film with Pascale and Gilles Legardinier. Anna is focused on getting pregnant through positive thinking, until she lets herself be seduced by everything she despises. The protagonists suffer the effects of passion as much as the viewer takes delight in Lelouch’s devotion to life in its most complicated forms.
Drawn by the clichés of the male chauvinist and the naive bourgeoisie, the story takes time to settle. But soon enough, Jean Dujardin and Elsa Zylberstein paint a picture of one of the most impenetrable feelings in a most natural way.
Magnetized by this universal concept since his debut, even claiming to be deeply in love with love itself, Lelouch makes films that hardly give a materialistic representation of love. Amma, whose full name is Mata Amritanandamayi, is currently known as one of India’s foremost spiritual leaders. Yet she considers love as her only religion. Many who are skeptical about her gift will have their minds changed once she’s taken someone in her arms. Amma comes as the the connecting point between the characters and love’s major and purest symbol in this movie.
The scene that depicts her embracing people she doesn’t know is overwhelmingly honest. It’s an evident illustration of Lelouch’s ode to love. Anna and Antoine are stuck with each other on a pilgrimage leading to Amma: Anna is on what she calls the “path of fertility” while he just wants to get rid of a headache. The farce is incongruous but lovable in the style of a pure vaudeville. Alice Pol and Christophe Lambert, playing Alice and Samuel, the pianist and the ambassador, are the finishing but essential touches to this disillusioned quartet.
Un plus une is a nod to 1969’s Love is a Funny Thing, one of Lelouch’s classics starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Annie Girardot, to which the protagonist makes a straightforward reference in the breakfast scene. The melodious rhythm of Lelouch’s new film is reminiscent of this ‘60s classic, where music and love blended on a divine level. Anna stops questioning the universe when she finally realizes that the dumbest questions are the most important ones. Whether pure love is possible in the modern age is another question that could be asked here, just as it was in Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Eclisse (1962).
Un plus une will probably not be considered one of Lelouch’s classics, but the director works in an unpretentious way, demonstrating once more that he has nothing left to prove.
Release date: Feb. 12, 2016
Director: Claude Lelouch
Actors: Jean Dujardin, Elsa Zylberstein, Alice Pol, Christophe Lambert
Running time: 115 mins