Un Couple Parfait Nobuhiro Suwa

Japanese director Nobuhiro Suwa has a very patient, observational style. He dealt with the slow dissolution of a relationship in his last film (M/Other), but this time he transplants his unflinching gaze to Paris and the story of a nameless couple (played by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Bruno Todeschini) who are in the last stages of a marriage that appeared to everyone else as a model relationship. The couple are in town for a wedding and as they settle into their hotel the fracture between them is more than evident (he orders a cot to sleep on). Most of the action takes place in the room, with the camera looking at just one or the other for an entire scene. We don't see the husband's reaction when the wife berates him for being contemptible and superficial. We know she's indirectly responding to his flirtations with another woman earlier in the evening, and we can tell he's a little pleased to have riled her. Over a couple of days, they take stabs at each other (he arranges a meeting with the woman he flirted with, even though he's really not interested), and the power changes hands back and forth. There's no reason given for the break-up, besides the fact that the intensity of their love has faded and is being replaced with hostility - they need to feel something, because emotional numbness or ambivalence would be even more hellish for them. Throughout the film, Suwa (who also wrote the screenplay) retains the ambiguity that they might still want to salvage the marriage, but that neither wants the shame and vulnerability of admitting that. The really important content of the film is what they don't say to each other. After the wife finishes maliciously lashing out at her husband, he storms out and she closes the door and cries to herself, "I'm sorry...," but she waits until he's out of earshot to say it. (Comme des Cinémas/Bitters End Inc.)