Sublime: Hotel des Amériques

Hotel des Amériques (1981)
Directed by André Téchiné
Written by André Téchiné, Gilles Taurand
Produced by Alain Sarde
Starring Catherine Deneuve, Patrick Dewaere, Etienne Chicot, Sabine Haudepin, Dominique Lavanant, François Perrot, Josiane Balasko
Desolation’s the commonality that binds an anesthesiologist (Deneuve) whose addiction to barbiturates stanches the grief attending her inamorato’s recent death, and the erratically unbalanced son (Dewaere) of a hotel manager when she nearly runs him down in the wee hours; their untenable yet persisting romance provokes a constellation of acquaintances, especially his guarded yet ardent sister (Haudepin) and intolerably ignoble best friend (Chicot, as usual). Their first of seven collaborations to date finds Téchiné and Deneuve alike enkindling the best in one another as he explores his protagonists’ fervor and heartbreak, skirting elegiac conventions to relate the durability of a love buckled beneath the weight of derangement and insecurity. Through Téchiné’s lenses, Biarritz brims with forlorn poignancy and his single, elegantly exposed augury consorts with the yearning emanative in every surpassing personation, attesting the Gallic conviction that all solitude either bespeaks or occasions misery.

Favorites: Le choc

Le choc (1982)
Directed by Robin Davis, Alain Delon
Written by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Dominique Robelet, Claude Veillot, Robin Davis, Alain Delon
Produced by Alain Sarde, Alain Terzian
Starring Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve, Etienne Chicot, François Perrot, Catherine Leprince, Philippe Léotard
Weary of his sanguinary craft, an urbane, veteran assassin (Delon) purposes to exit his lucrative billet in pursuit of legitimate forays to the reprehension of his employers, who apparently resort to extremes to recover his services. Few leading men were so apposite as Delon for the impassive suavity of his role, which he justifies with an understated, polished portrayal that indues credibility to his protagonist’s Bondian savoir faire; as the fetching spouse of a loutish turkey breeder (Léotard), Deneuve radiates vulnerable sensuality as his predictable love interest, and Chicot is again and condignly typecast as a dour reprobate. In concert with genre journeyman Davis, Delon enhanced the pedestrian premise of an obscure novel with an investment of slick action sequences, novel interiors, wry raillery and its gorgeous, middle-aged leads’ potent, prurient chemistry, elevating what might have been a routine suspense feature into a superbly engaging outing. For viewers weary of farcically hyperbolic action pictures, this may suffice as a refreshing alternative to silly drivel concocted by the likes of Besson or West.
Recommended for a double feature paired with Le professionnel.