Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 16th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Altered Views

film__chambon4'Mademoiselle Chambon" explores sensuousness of longing
Not all the French hang out in the bistro, sipping cognac and discussing arty things. What's interesting right away about Mademoiselle Chambon—literally, from the very first image—is the thoughtful way it sets up a working-class milieu. Jean (Vincent Lindon), a construction worker, spends his days ripping out drywall and mortaring bricks. His wife, Anne-Marie (Aure Atika) works on an assembly line. When they help their little boy, Jeremy, with his grammar homework, they are as mystified as he is about the test questions, but the three of them gamely work their way through the lesson together and come up with the correct answer.

Writer-director Stéphane Brizé, working from the novel by Eric Holder, observes in succinct and leisurely detail the comfortable life the family has made together in a provincial country town (where Jean is also primary caretaker of his elderly, widowed father). Jean is surprised when Jeremy's new teacher, Mademoiselle Chambon (Sandrine Kiberlain) invites him to speak to the class about his job; no one has ever found his work interesting before. She hires him to repair a broken window in her rented apartment; later, over coffee, he asks her to play the violin he's noticed among her things. Too shy to face him, she turns away to play an exquisitely melancholy piece, and, in a beautifully evocative sequence, the music haunts him all the way home, a portal into the passion and mystery of an entirely different way of living that begins to alter the way he views his own life.

Filmmaker Brizé traffics in the sensuousness of nuance and longing. A scene when taciturn Jean accompanies his aging father to help pick out a coffin says everything about Jean's shifting perspective, and renders more obvious bits of dialogue (like a discussion on whether something broken is better off fixed or changed) almost superfluous. It's also intriguing that Mlle. Chambon herself, while younger than Jean, is not some sexy ingénue; in a few precisely-limned moments (especially a terse phone call with her mother), she emerges as a woman approaching a certain age who has never been able to either settle down or fulfill her own potential.

film_MadamChambon_PosterLindon and Kiberlain (real-life spouses when the film was shot) generate a subtle but tangible chemistry. If some of the choices these characters make are disappointing as the story plays out, a little manipulation of plot can be forgiven in this touching, well-constructed morality play.


With Vincent Lindon and Sandrine Kiberlain. Written and directed by Stéphane Brizé. A Lorber Films release. (Not rated) 101 minutes. In French with English subtitles.

Watch film trailer >>>

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).


Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.


Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.


Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments


Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.


How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management


Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX


Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.