Alice et Martin (1998)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Aug 30, 2000 (USA)  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - Spain, France  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Todd Kristel

The disappointing Alice and Martin seems to have the right ingredients for a first-rate art film: creative contributions from such respected names as André Téchiné (Wild Reeds) and Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep); a story about family secrets, madness, and guilt; an intricate nonlinear narrative that gradually reveals the mysterious details of someone's life; a torrid romance with Juliette Binoche; and a pervasive feeling of sadness that even manages to creep into some of the film's happier moments. Unfortunately, the individual pieces of the film don't add up to that much. The surprises are fairly predictable and the opaque narrative structure detracts from the movie's dramatic tension. Binoche retains her usual radiant screen presence but is stuck in a disappointingly passive role as the audience's surrogate in discovering the mysteries of Martin (Alexis Loret). Her character isn't fully developed and her relationship with Martin doesn't seem fully believable. Part of the problem is that she has only limited screen chemistry with Loret. Also, Loret's performance, which seems to be based primarily on looking handsome and intense, lacks nuance and depth; this may be because his character is someone who hides his emotional life beneath a shallow exterior, but Loret never manages to fully communicate Martin's inner life during the film. Furthermore, the movie's pace is rather slow and some of the plot developments seem contrived. The result of these flaws is that the movie isn't nearly as emotionally involving as it should have been.