Lisa Schwarzbaum
May 31, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
performer
Emmanuelle Beart, Michel Serrault
director
Claude Sautet

We gave it an B+

The gravely lovely Emmanuelle Beart, who played a breathtaking cellist in Claude Sautet’s meditative Un Coeur en Hiver (and who makes her American debut in the unmeditative Mission: Impossible), plays a breathtaking typist in this equally contemplative little Sautet production. (He won a Cesar — the French Oscar — for each.) And once again, his themes are intimacy, repression, and what’s at risk when one soul reaches out to another. This time, the attractive people doing the talking instead of doing (voila for fans of Seinfeld and French cinema — another film about rien!) are Nelly (Beart), a directionless young woman divorcing her stick-in-the-mud husband, and Monsieur Arnaud (the wonderful Michel Serrault, the drag queen in the original La Cage aux Folles), a wealthy older gent who hires her to type up his memoirs. Not much happens: She has an affair with his editor; he pines for her with courtly hopelessness — the end. But the little currents of desire that ruffle the smooth surface of this Parisian love story sneak up on you while you’re dreamily coveting Arnaud’s daily cognac at his local bistro. B+

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