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Le Secret


Two generations of cine-literate Frenchmen (reared on quality films in the 50s, 60s, and 70s) are mightily hot and bothered by what they see as the Americanising of French cinema. Directors such as Jean-Jacques Annaud and Luc Besson, who happen to shoot stylishly and even include action scenes, are roundly attacked for not being François Truffaut. America is, it seems, perfectly all right provided it's being smirked at ironically by Jean-Luc Godard and other revered gods.

But what those complaining cinéastes have to admit is that cinema which is essentially French has become tired and tiresome, almost a clapped-out cliché. It seems that right now French cinema means Parisian middle-classes analysing their adulterous affairs over fine wines. Naturally they do this wearing chic clothes in nice rooms. Welcome, then, to "Le Secret", whose title betrays the obviousness of the whole enterprise for the film, concerns an attractive, poised encyclopaedia saleswoman (well, at least the job's different) who keeps her affair with an idle American a secret from her husband. Irony, incidentally, takes the form of the crumbling couple attending the wedding of two happy youngsters.

As she endures her own agony, and wakes up to her needs, her every move (from thrills with her lover to cosy routines with her husband) is completely free of surprise, just like the rest of the film. The contrasts are more than clear, the characters are exquisitely tortured, and the film looks good. Another cliché to comfort those who dislike American cinema.

"Le Secret" is released in UK cinemas on Friday 24th August 2001.
Date Added: 05/03/2013 by Charles Aznavour
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