(1993)4Todd KristelThis downbeat character drama may be too slow-paced and elliptical for some people's taste, but it contains enough strong performances and compelling scenes to satisfy patient viewers who don't mind the surfeit of ponderous dialogue. My Favorite Season is more successful at uncovering the characters' hidden feelings and motivations through their actions, expressions, awkward silences, and sudden outbursts than through the content of their philosophical musings, which tend to be rather long on screen time and short on humor. The movie includes beautiful footage of Southern France, but the visuals aren't ostentatious or distracting; indeed, Techine makes particularly good use of spare, ordinary settings with an appropriately stifling atmosphere. The film's greatest asset, however, is the generally first-rate acting. Catherine Deneuve's subtle portrayal of Emile may seem at first glance to be too inexpressive and remote to reveal her character's inner life, but her performance is much looser than some of her famous "ice queen" roles of the past. She manages to convey the underlying sadness behind Emile's reserved demeanor, and even seems emotionally naked in a few scenes that display the mixture of anger, guilt, and love that she feels toward both her mother and brother. Daniel Auteuil does a superb job as her brother, Antoine. The character's self-loathing and possessiveness may be off-putting, but Auteuil manages to humanize Antoine by conveying his deep sense of longing and unease, particularly through his expressive use of his eyes; furthermore, he contributes some humor to this mostly dour film in a particularly memorable scene in which he considers jumping from a window. Martha Villalonga also demonstrates some humor in her spot-on performance as their caustic mother, Berthe, and the rest of the supporting cast does a fine job, although the subplot involving a Moroccan secretary (Carmen Chaplin) doesn't contribute much to the film.