Kings and Queen (2004, Arnaud Desplechin)

Halfway through this movie I paused for an hour – or was it a day? Either way, I spent some time away from the movie just loving it, thinking so this is why people love Desplechin, this is great, not like A Christmas Tale which I thought was just so-so. Then I got back to the movie and the second half felt exactly like A Christmas Tale, not in terms of plot or character, but in that I just liked it pretty alright. So either the second half is disappointing, or I should not pause movies in the middle.

Large-mouthed Emmanuelle Devos is our star, who manages an art gallery, tends to her ten-year-old son, and is engaged to Olivier Rabourdin. Elsewhere, the ever-dependable Mathieu Almaric is introduced saying fuck you to the IRS on his outgoing answering machine message before he is taken away by men in white coats. I love that guy. Drama: Almaric is Devos’s crazy ex-husband who she contacts because her dad is dying. Is that what happened? I watched this a couple months ago now, so I’m not sure.

I thought the movie would center around Devos, but Almaric takes over for a long time, with his drug-addict lawyer, his superstar psychiatrist, new psychiatrist Catherine Deneuve, his family and a suicidal friend in the asylum who’s studying Chinese. In the second half it flashes all over through time, Devos breaking up with Almaric and driving her first husband to suicide. Energetic, emotional editing, not going for any sort of classical continuity, with very decent handheld camerawork. In the end, Almaric decides not to adopt (or be some kind of insurance-policy guardian for) Devos’s kid.

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