Independents' day

Small films have their big night in '96

Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud Laid-off editor Nelly (Emmanuelle Beart) makes ends meet through a succession of odd jobs, while her husband (Charles Berling) sits around the apartment all day watching TV. Nelly eventually leaves him and takes a job as editor/word processor for the much older Monsieur Arnaud (Michel Serrault). Arnaud--divorced, retired, and wealthy--fills his time composing memoirs of his years as a judge and a businessman. As their work relationship becomes increasingly personal, their behavior speaks ever so discreetly about their mismatched feelings. Director Claude Sautet (Un Coeur en Hiver) has come up with another engrossing and subtle tale. Once again, the film's tone is so delicately balanced that it's hard to classify it as either comedy or drama. Sautet has an uncommon faith in the audience's intelligence, and from that faith comes the leisure to present human behavior with all its ambiguities and ambivalences.

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