Private Fears in Public Places (2006)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film  |   Release Date - Apr 13, 2007 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 126 min.  |   Countries - France , Italy   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Comedy tinged with melancholy is the order of the day in Alain Resnais' delicious Private Fears in Public Places. It's a skillful adaptation (by Resnais and Jean-Michel Ribes) of Alan Ayckbourn's stage play, transposing the playwright's quite-British characters to France in what turns out to be a quite natural manner. Resnais chooses to emphasize a little less of the formality inherent in Ayckbourn's play (though that is still very much in evidence) and to suggest slightly more of a fated inevitability. It's artifice, of course, but Resnais doesn't shrink from the artificial; indeed, the film is shot in a manner that emphasizes and celebrates the "other-worldly" quality of which film is capable. His introduction of the snowfall motif, highly artificial, is enormously effective, creating moments of visual beauty that also comment upon characters and situations. Resnais' low-key approach to the material doesn't disguise its theatrical origins, but does make an asset of the same. He's interested in exploring these characters -- not in explaining them, but exploring them -- and he and his camera capture them in all their human frailty and not-inconsiderable comedy. He's aided by an expert cast that is perfectly in tune with his goals and desires. The result is an adult, sophisticated romp, one that may not be as intellectually challenging as many other of the director's works but which has a quiet emotional impact that is quite lovely.