Lisa Schwarzbaum
May 13, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Strayed

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
95 minutes
Limited Release Date
05/14/04
performer
Emmanuelle Beart, Gaspard Ulliel, Jean Fornerod, Samuel Laberthe, Clemence Meyer
director
Andre Techine
distributor
Wellspring
author
Gilles Taurand, Andre Techine
genre
Foreign Language, Drama

We gave it an A-

Although set in 1940 during Germany’s early occupation of France, André Téchiné’s beautifully ambiguous, exquisitely underplayed drama Strayed has less to do with the events and moral choices of the era that continue to shape French identity than with the timeless psychological effects of finding oneself unmoored from the familiar. Fleeing Paris and German bombs, a stunned young widow (played by template-for-stunned-but-strong-Gallic-heroines Emmanuelle Béart) and her two children meet up with a wily, illiterate 17-year-old young man (Gaspard Ulliel) of shady provenance but indispensable quick wit and natural charm. He finds them an abandoned house when they’re lost in the woods and forages for food; she finds him just this side of frightening, that side of alluring.

Téchiné (”Alice and Martin”) inserts a few establishing shots of ”war,” but it’s the tug of conflicting desires he specializes in. The wiliest enemy, he lets us feel in this spare, controlled character study, is sometimes not an outsider at all, but resides within.

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