Cet Amour-la

Josee Dayan’s 2001 film about French writer Marguerite Duras (1914-’96) is based on an autobiographical novel by Yann Andrea, a onetime philosophy student 38 years her junior who spent 16 years with her as friend, confidant, lover, drinking companion, and secretary. It’s a curious blend of soap opera a la Beloved Infidel (Sheilah Graham’s account of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last days) and halfhearted portrait of Duras as a person and writer. Jeanne Moreau, who looks nothing like Duras but was a friend of hers, does a fine job capturing her personal style (including her alcoholic abuse of Andrea). But there’s something self-defeating about approaching an unconventional artist so conventionally, and the story becomes touching only insofar as it overrides much of what made Duras special. In French with subtitles. 98 min. (JR)

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