Monday, April 13, 2015

Three Hearts (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Three Hearts

There is a good reason why Benoît Jacquot's "Three Hearts" has some forbidding Bernard Hermann-like overtones that hum over an otherwise conventional romantic score. The film highlights the suspense that exists within a selfish and lusty life.

Marc (Benoit Poelvoorde) is a harried tax inspector. A gray aura seems to hover above and beneath him. He never smiles.

At a bar, he meets the enigmatic Sylvie (Charlotte Gainesbourg) who has a piercing nervous look, rather like a bird, her hair nest-like and unkempt. Though Sylvie says little, Marc is fascinated by her curious melancholy. He tells her that he is passionately driven by the mystery of women and the stories that they  reveal.

The two agree to meet at a park, presumably to exchange numbers and initiate a relationship despite Sylvie being married. On the night before the meeting, Marc seems to be under attack by cardiac devils, kept up by a great squeezing of the chest that does not abate till the wee hours. Then due to work, he arrives late at the appointed bench, his hopes for romance dashed.

One day at an antique shop, he meets the warm and sensual Sophie (Chiara Mastroianni) and he agrees to look over her tax forms. The next night, Marc and Sophie attack each other like wolves. They become engaged.

On a date, Sophie mentions having a sister Sylvie but it doesn't register fully until he sees Sylvie's Zippo lighter in a drawer.

The audience is teased a bit: conversations are heard just out of audible range. The voices  could be Sylvie or perhaps someone else with video message screens half glanced.

Director Benoit Jacquot knows how to play us like a Hitchcock organ at times to great effect. Marc becomes increasingly tormented. When thinking of the eerily   supernatural Sylvie, he redoubles his passion upon Sophie all the while caring more for the darkness. With an intense deliberateness we are in the realm of a film noir.

A stand out is the magnetic Charlotte Gainsbourg who seems a hybrid of a scarecrow and a siren, witchy and wild but also oddly aloof. Though she gives the predictable spooky frets as she did in "Nymphomaniac" she is riveting to watch.

Chiara Mastroianni also delivers well as the caring love who seems the last to comprehend events. Last but not least, Catherine Deneuve is here too, as a matriarch of the status quo.

Though the buildup fares better than the revelations, "Three Hearts" does well in its depiction of one man on fire, full of want but disturbingly tipping over with an enervating weight. Marc is powerless to control himself. He is alternately swayed by both his libido, peer society and perhaps the dark bass notes of the film's score---a singular character in itself.

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