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CHANGING TIMES ****

(LES TEMPS QUI CHANGENT)

CAST: Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Gilbert Melki, Malik Zidi, Lubna Azabal, Tanya Lopert, Nabile Baraka, Idir Elomri, Nadem Rachati, Jabir Elomri

DIRECTOR: Andre Techine

SCREENWRITERS: Andre Techine, Laurent Guyot, Pascal Bonitzer

By GUY FLATLEY


Over the years, Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu have acted together on seven occasions, most memorably in “The Last Metro,” in which Deneuve played a dazzling actress who was married to her director but rapturously in love with Depardieu, playing a fellow member of a wartime Parisian theatrical troupe. That was in 1980, and it would be absurd to expect the couple to turn the heat up as high today as they did in Truffaut’s intensely romantic drama. Yet, as this gem of a movie reveals, the magic has by no means vanished. Despite a line here and a wrinkle there, a quarter century has not dulled the brilliance, skill, humor and sexual rapport of this superstar duo. To put it simply, the chemistry between Deneuve and Depardieu is still hot.

Not that Cecile and Antoine, the characters they play, think of themselves as hot, or even lukewarm. Cecile, a low-salaried participant on a minor Tangiers radio program, tolerates the infidelities of her decent but uncommunicative Moroccan husband and tries not to lose patience with her grown son, a gay rover who hesitates to come all the way out of the closet. Antoine is a diligent, affluent French bachelor supervising an engineering project in Tangiers. The thing that binds Cecile and Antoine--or, rather, the thing Antoine hopes will bind them--is the fact they had been ardent lovers thirty years earlier in Paris. Antoine cannot forget Cecile; she, on the other hand, can scarcely remember him and is conspicuously annoyed when he confesses that his true mission in Tangiers is to rekindle their relationship.

This is the simple situation that builds to a complex, amusing, erotic, delicately nuanced, and unexpectedly moving experience under the impeccable direction of Andre Techine, working from a screenplay he co-wrote with Laurent Guyot and Pascal Bonitzer. Among the moments apt to startle, impress and stick with you are Antoine's late-night encounter and intimate conversation with Cecile’s husband about Cecile; a steamy reunion between Cecile's son and an old, hunky love of his own; a ghastly accident involving a key character; an attack by a pack of wild dogs on a man trying to take a leak; and every single
scene in which the wonderful Deneuve and Depardieu clash, crash and finally connect.

I can’t wait for “Changing Times 2.”

 

TO READ GUY FLATLEY'S 2000 INTERVIEW WITH CATHERINE DENEUVE, CLICK HERE; FOR DIANE BARONI'S 1991 INTERVIEW WITH GERARD DEPARDIEU, CLICK HERE.