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Bevor der Winter kommt (Before the Winter Chill, Avant l'hiver)
France/Luxembourg 2013

Opening 13 Nov 2014

Directed by: Philippe Claudel
Writing credits: Philippe Claudel
Principal actors: Daniel Auteuil, Kristin Scott Thomas, Leïla Bekhti, Richard Berry, Vicky Krieps

The title Before the Winter Chill is as mystifying as the film itself. 103 minutes of wondering where this is going.

Paul (Daniel Auteuil) and Lucie (Kristin Scott Thomas) have been married for 30 years. He is a very busy neurosurgeon close to retirement. Lucie tends to their chic bungalow and garden and babysits the granddaughter. They don’t spend much time with each other but appear reasonably content with the situation. One day, out of the blue they start getting mysterious rose-bouquets sent to the house and to Paul’s office. Paul suspects a pushy part-time waitress (Leïla Bekhti) he met at a bar – but she denies it. The couple feels harassed and worried. Their relationship suffers.

Whether this film is meant to be about a psychological crisis before retirement or if it is meant to be a thriller, either way the story is unconvincing and confusing (script and direction by Philippe Claudel). We can side with Lucie and understand her sense of betrayal. But Paul’s actions remain incomprehensible, his thoughts hidden. The significance of some supporting roles and their stories – family, friends and a visiting group of garden aficionados – is unclear, and even in the end nothing really falls into place. A frustrating and befuddling experience to sit through! (Carola A)

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