DIRECTOR: LOUIS MALLE
COUNTRY: ENGLAND/FRANCE 1993
CINEMATOGRAPHY: PETER BIZIOU
MUSIC: ZBIGINIEW PREISNER
WRITTEN BY: DAVID HARE, from Josephine Hart's novel
CAST: Jeremy Irons (Stephen), Juliette Binoche (Anna), Miranda Richardson (Ingrid), Rupert Graves (Martyn), Ian Barmen, Peter Stormare, Leslie Caron (The psychic)
SUPER FEATURES: Beautifully directed film.
Louis Malle's films have always been about the interaction between two, or more, characters. DAMAGE is not any different at all,
It would be very easy to call Louis Malle, the quintessential film director one can study in academic circles. DAMAGE is another fine example of what the art of directing is all about. Nicely tied moments, and a cohesive story. Made even more so, by the actions of the director. Malle, despite his American connections (married to Candace Bergen), has never lost his feel for directing something, and is and will be remembered for it for a long time to come.
DAMAGE is the story of an English diplomat that is on the verge of becoming a prime minister, but his ability to get his job done has met an enemy. It is his 'double', or his other personality. And for his indiscretion, he loses his whole life. Society can be cruel, but then so can the individuals, be they the Stephens intertwined in their chances of success, or Anna, whose life seems to be a series of tragic incidents she happens to bring to a close every time. While Stephens sees and understands that he can not continue what he is doing, Anna is engaged to his son, he still does it. And it costs him his own son. And social position.
As the film closes, the older Stephens is admiring a picture of Anna on his wall. He observes that he saw Anna once more, but she didn't see him. She had had a child with the Frenchman that helped her before. And that he had lost her special feeling. The wildness.
I suppose that there are a couple of things this fine film would like to make us all see. why is it that the impossible is always so attractive, so clear, so desirable -- and yet, so utterly destructive. Or is it, as the credits suggest, that woman, while strong to pursue her desires, is still weak -- just like any man -- when it comes to drawing a line, or to stop.
Louis Malle's best strength has always been centered on the characters he works with, and their inner strength, or inability to work with it. And their interplay in the face of disaster. The ones that show the weaker and emotional sides, generally fail. The son is the example here. society manages to hurt, or damage, the rest.
Carefully shot, with beautiful musical passage strewn throughout, this film is slow, but it is attractive, with excellent acting throughout, and it manages to keep us wondering where it will all lead. But while Stephens is still stuck in a time warp, has everyone else gained, or lost.?
Excellently directed with very intricate and delicate dialogue exchanges. Tender when it needs to be. Sexual when it needs to be as the angles are faster, and the style cuts faster. This film is one of those that is sad, but it is a triumph of tenderness about one side of our nature, which has a tendency to hurt us in this modern day and age. Is it us, or is it the social mold that has done us wrong.? Anna is having the same problem on another scale.
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