THE LAST DAYS OF CHEZ NOUS
DIRECTOR: GILLIAN ARMSTRONG
CINEMATOGRAPHY: GEOFFREY SIMPSON
MUSIC: PAUL GRABOWSKY
CAST: Lisa Harrow, Bruno Ganz, Kerry Fox, Miranda Otto, Kiri Paramore, Bill Hunter.
A French immigrant is married to an Australian woman, which helped him get his visa to stay. All is well, or so it seems until Beth's younger sister appears, who is pregnant, and has to make a decision.
As the younger sister finds her way around, the older sister is having a harder time enjoying herself from day to day, and part of it stems from her relationship to her father. And while she goes on a holiday with her father, to try and sort things out, her world begins caving under her feet... however, to the credit of the two individuals, the whole thing is not a big mess, or an undesirable situation. The relationship between the two sisters is over, the older sister's marriage is done with, her daughter's relationship is just getting to the good level... and in the end she just takes off on a walk.... with a smile.. a bit of freedom, and self found amidst all this.
The Last Days of Chez Nous, is by no means a great film, but like another of Gillian Armstrong's films (My Brilliant Career) it is dependant on the actresses' abilities to keep the action moving along the lines of a barren script. The co-ordination of the visual with the rest of the wording becomes an important factor in the whole story. And so does each person's point of view.... Jean Pierre is not happy, and never has been because he really never knew what it meant to love someone. And Beth never knew how to get beyond the demanding stage of her relationship. And the younger sister has not been able to reconcile her wildness with the reality of it all. And the two young ones are just discovering anything and everything about themselves.
The film progresses slowly, similar in many ways to a stage play, where the exposition has to become clear before we get into the meat of the story, and then the film begins picking up. It's all in the dynamics of interaction between each character, which is what acting is made for, but unfortunately, in a film market where action is the desired mode, something like the fine acting performances of Lisa Harrow and Bruno Ganz (for once not playing a role of an idiot, or a slow minded one), get by un-noticed.
It is a nice film, not great, but enjoyable. It also shows us a side that we are not always willing to accept, or understand. The personal relationships come apart, but the people need not do so. At least they share a desire to be honest with each other.
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