“Off-season” features a reunion at the bottom of the wave

There are at least two films in Hors-saison , by Stéphane Brizé, presented in competition at the Venice Film Festival. The first has the feel of a documentary, the second the texture of a fireside melodrama. Guillaume Canet plays a very well-known actor, named Mathieu, arriving, looking tired, in a thalassotherapy establishment on the Morbihan coast. He is “caressing” his fifties, the script tells us, and needs to unwind from his Parisian life… In short, many movie stars could identify with him.

The director, who likes to work with docu-fiction, constructs here the opposite of what he did in The Law of the Market (2015) : Vincent Lindon played a character a thousand miles from himself, an unemployed man from long term, having all the difficulty in the world to resettle. Lindon seemed to have been dropped into a documentary about social exclusion. In Hors-saison , Canet infuses fiction while giving the feeling of playing his own role.

In the first half hour, the most interesting, Hors-saison takes the side of humor and works a few gags, Mathieu not succeeding in relaxing in this hotel full of intelligent gadgets – among other things, the coffee maker in his suite for him. plays tricks.

A simple life

Very quickly, he finds by chance (magic of cinema…) a former lover, Alice (Alba Rohrwacher), whom he had lost sight of. It is at this point in the story, with small touches of music served by Vincent Delerm, that the spectator says goodbye to burlesque, and hello to boredom. Mathieu and Alice revisit their story, with the unsaid things that may have hurt. The young woman, a musician, who had ambitions as a composer, now gives piano lessons. Unlike Guillaume Canet, Alba Rohrwacher is unrecognizable in the skin of this forty-year-old who leads a simple life, with a honeyed smile.

In this type of story, either the former lovers remain in the state of ex-lovers, and the words they exchange sometimes produce the miracle of sublimating the past, as was the case in Holes of Memory (1985), by ( and with) Paul Vecchiali, or La Reconquista (2016), by Jonas Trueba. Either the man and the woman fall back into their arms, and the whole challenge of the story is to find the final word… We will not reveal that of Hors-saison , but the subject of this reunion – apart from a full scene of charm and mystery, during an evening with friends – is not strong enough to get us out of the trough of the wave.

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