Le Temps d’aimer opens with archive images of the Liberation of incredible violence: women shaved in the public square, for having had a relationship with a German, have to endure the sneers of the men who hold the razors . These documentary sequences, which attest to the horrors committed during the purge, are important. But the way in which Katell Quillévéré’s film segues into fictional images turns out to be frankly questionable.
Here is Anaïs Demoustier, bald head (thanks to a latex prosthesis), in the role of Madeleine, six months pregnant, who frantically waves a cloth to erase the swastika which covers her stomach. This transition is striking in its crudeness and even indecency. The artifices of fiction – a familiar face, the makeup, the decor – do not fit well with the authenticity of what has just been seen; calibration, which aims to unify the two types of images, comes up against the aberration of this forced continuity. Finally, it is difficult to admit that Madeleine’s gesture brings together in a few seconds a sort of community of destinies.
That said, despite a failed beginning and ending, the film, which tells, over two decades, the love story between Madeleine and François (Vincent Lacoste), is controlled, of great scope and finds its way. This is proof that Katell Quillévéré ( Suzanne , in 2013, Repairing the Living , in 2016, the miniseries The World of Tomorrow , in 2022) knows how to shift the lines of force of the intimate story. Like the couple in question, Le Temps d’aimer hides a secret.
While we fear a purely illustrative approach to the eras crossed, this melodrama turns out to be more twisted. Of course, there are the post-war fetishes: the Châteauroux dance hall, the GIs, chewing gum… There is also pretty much what we expect from the traditional melodrama: a pretty unmarried mother, waitress in a hotel-restaurant, meets an elegant student much richer than her and affected by polio…
However, amidst the intertwining of romantic passion, the marriage of convenience which serves as a cover for the main parties involved turns out to be the main motive of the film: to keep Madeleine’s former relationship with a German soldier and François’ homosexuality socially hidden. From then on, Le Temps d’aimer sneaks in more modern questions which exacerbate its reflexive dimension: the relationship between love and sexuality, bisexuality within the couple, the renewal of desire, the ambivalence of the mother in relation to her child…
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