Alice et Martin (Alice and Martin)

Directed by André Téchiné
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Alexis Loret, Mathieu Amalric.
MPAA Rating: R for a scene of sexuality and language.

Review by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
September 7, 2000

At the end of the summer of 2000, there is no lack of French cinema in America. Unfortunately, it's not all as wonderful as The Girl on the Bridge. It's taken a while for Alice and Martin to reach this country, but for all its good intentions, it's not quite satisfying.

When he was 10 years old, Martin Sauvagnac (Alexis Loret) was sent to live with his father (Pierre Maguelon), a middle-aged family man who had an affair with his mother. Martin runs away ten years later, after his father dies, and heads to Paris to live with his half-brother, Benjamin (Mathieu Amalric).

Benjamin is gay, but he is closest to his female roommate, Alice (Juliette Binoche). The three of them get along well, and eventually Martin finds work as a model. Soon, Alice and Martin fall in love, but Benjamin is left with resentment of Martin's success and without Alice for support.

The set up of this premise is done with great care, and plays beautifully. The first 90 minutes of the film were quite enjoyable, but another half-hour awaits. During that time, the film drags through an extended conclusion that involves a lot of Alice and very little Martin. Now, I don't mind watching Binoche on the screen for long periods of time, but it does drain my interest from the film's story.

This is Loret's film debut (his second film, Sans plomb, was recently released in France), and I can understand giving the kid a break, but just when his character started to get really interesting, he was shuffled off screen. Alice and Martin had so many opportunities to be a really good film, and in parts it is. The performances were all good, and director André Téchiné (Wild Reeds) has some very nice touches. Why, oh why, did he have to disappoint me so?

I suppose he meant well, even though he is a Frenchman. No doubt he laid this same ending on his own countrymen, and felt that it worked. Maybe I'm just an ugly American and couldn't possibly appreciate his vision. Whatever. At least it wasn't nearly as long and aloof as Time Regained.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Alice et Martin (1998)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Alice & Martin (1998) - English subtitles -- VHS
Alice & Martin (1998) -- DVD
Alice et Martin: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan