Out of Season

Out of Season ★★★★

ZFF 2023 #19

Which branch of the French film industry do I sue for creating the conditions that compelled the great Stéphane Brizé to graft some truly dire "old man yells at (the) cloud" routines (those darn coffee machines and automatic doors! fish killed in the restaurant? whatever will they think of next?) onto his moving exploration of missed chances and new beginnings? Not a catastrophic misstep – one that a more generous viewer might even classify as a deliberate send-up of Guillaume Canet's somewhat shallow discontents – but a noticeable flaw in an otherwise exceedingly graceful, empathetic, and emotionally well-calibrated film.

And yet, it's probably still the best recent film I've seen that deals with the nagging middle-aged feeling that you've missed out on the kind of happiness they rave about in pop-culture. (It's not by accident that Canet's character is a popular mainstream movie star.) It's in those extended scenes where Canet (who looks distractingly like Adam Sandler) and an extraordinary Alba Rohrwacher work through the script's patient, organic build-up from relaxed banter to earth-shattering self-scrutiny that the film – and Brizé's deceptively matter-of-fact staging – shines brightest.

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