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Nelly And Monsieur Arnaud
Genre:Art/Foreign
Rating:?
Country:France
Cast:Michel Serrault, Emmanuelle
Credits:Directed by Claude Sautet

If a Hollywood director made a film as quiet, demanding, or lovely as "Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud," he would be run out of town - not by film lovers, who know better, but by his financial backers. Why is it that fine French directors like Claude Sautet make such films all the time? is it something in the water?

Michel Serrault (Whom you may remember as Zaza in the original "La Cage aux Foles") stars as M. Arnaud, an elderly gentleman described by another character as "a strange guy - delicate, civilized, doesn't miss a thing." He sure doesn't miss Nelly. (How could you, when she's played by the unspeakably lovely Emmanuelle Beart?) Introduced to this unhappy twenty-five-year-old at a restaurant, he soon hires her to help type and edit his memoirs.

With a fine apprecieation for the nuances of polite repression, Sautet makes a quiet, careful study of these two lonely people. As in his earlier "Un Coeur en Hiver" (he won Cesar awards for directing both films), he watches this characters avoid the very intimacy they yearn for. Serrault (who won another Cesar for his role here) gives a particularly poignant performance as a man who perfectly understands his own limittions and is afraid it may be too late to make up for a lifetime's worth of poised indifference. Nelly makes him want to try.

Jay Carr of the BOSTON GLOBE was just one of the critics smitten with Sautet's film: "Subtle, rueful, ironic, it's the kind of ultra-refined comedy that remains one of the glories of French film. In fact, it's the kind of entertainment one writes about in terms usually reserved for fine wines.

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