Cesar et Rosalie - Blu-ray Review

'an examination of levels of satisfaction within relationships'

Wreathed in gauloises smoke, red wine and free-loving relationships, Cesar et Rosalie is French with a capital 'F', which is no bad thing. Attractively typical of the kind of free-wheeling drama latterly favoured by the likes of Olivier Assayas (think Late August, Early September and you're somewhere pretty close), Claude Sautet's Romance is a simplistic beast exploring a divisive and confused love triangle.

That this is a love triangle hints at the first problem: the title. This could just have easily have been David et Rosalie or even Cesar et David. The interjection of the latter component (David, Sami Frey) into the titular two's established Romance immediately puts him on the outside but, as the film makes plain, he is as key a piece in this as the other two characters and the film treats him as such.

What develops between the three main players is an examination of levels of satisfaction within relationships. Cesar (Yves Montand) loves Rosalie (Romy Schneider) and she is clearly reciprocal, but she also seems to want more, a bit of excitement, a younger body. Once David has filled that spot, Cesar too seems to recognise that David is actually something he is also missing; a son figure to spend time with, beyond the brothers he shares his business with.

Inevitably the characters begin to get happier when they realise their mutual needs are reliant on the presence of all three of them in the same space, but when this threatens to become too domesticated, Rosalie is once again trapped in predictability and routine.

This fact hits head on the main problem in Sautet's film: each character is, really, deeply unlikeable, far too often. Rosalie's failure to commit to anyone, despite all that they do for her, is attractive up to a point but eventually it comes across as flippant and difficult for the sake of it. Cesar is noble and charming but he's also violent and obsessive, to the point of threatening Rosa with a flick knife. David, a bit too smarmy to love, thinks nothing of waltzing home after a long time away to break up the future of the titular duo.

It means that the slight Drama in Cesar et Rosalie is ultimately very difficult to love, something which a film this mild of content really needs to find, somewhere. Still superior to most modern mainstream genre offerings.

Cesar et Rosalie is released on UK Blu-ray for the first time on Monday 5th November 2012.

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