ETCETERA covers a multitude of emotions - pain, anger, jealousy, sadness. The loneliness of the long distant lover and the isolation of the cuckolded husband. Relationships? Who wants them?
Everyone believes it's going to be different. Until the day after the night she dreams of someone else. Marie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is shy. Benoit (Yvan Attal) is shyer. They meet through a lonely hearts ad and tentatively come together. They are happy. They say they love each other. They marry. Benoit's best friend, Pierre (Charles Berling), is not shy. He's a teacher who treats girls like candy. His students take their tops off in his apartment (actually, only Elenore does, and she's gorgeous, but you feel there have been others). He's jealous of Benoit, so straight and unsure of himself, for finding such a unique and individual girl as Marie and having the courage to act upon his feelings.
Pierre falls in love with Marie because she's unavailable, because she can't see how much more attractive he is than Benoit, because he must have what he hasn't got. She rejects his advances - she won't have it, she won't have it' she won't have it, she will. Her confusion is a torment, upon which he feeds. His cruelty is unintentional. He experiences desire, like heroin through his veins, which excuses what he is doing. All is fair, etc. All is doomed. Even joy. Except for the moment.
What could be more French than a movie dedicated to love, except it's based on a novel by an Englishman, Julian Barnes? Marion Vernoux has youth on her side. She was 30 when she made this, which explains its restless vibrancy and sensitive observation. Essentially a three hander, the film is slight, delicate and suprememly well photographed. Gainsbourg has the ability to convey emotional honesty like no other. Still she appears caught between gauche youth and balanced womanhood. Her beauty is too personal to be pigeonholed, so unexpected and rare that Pierre's obsession with Marie becomes special. This is Charlotte, not Sophie Marceau. An acquired passion.