• FILM

  • SEARCH FOR

Alice et Martin

Alice et Martin

Directed by André Téchiné. Starring Juliette Binoche, Carmen Maura, Mathieu Amalric, Alexis Loret, Marthe Villalonga. (1998, R, 124 min.)

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 15, 2000

Every adult is a reaction to a childhood. Our adult form represents the survival of (or the succumbing to) the traumas and triumphs of our youth. For the bastard-born Martin, that means recovering from his mother sending him at age 10 to live with his father Victor. A gruff, unfeeling man, Victor never gave a hint of harboring any paternal love for his son and, upon Victor's unexpected death, the 20-year-old Martin (Loret) flees. After living briefly in the French countryside and stealing eggs to survive, a shaky Martin arrives in Paris at the flat of his half-brother, Benjamin (the excellent Mathieu Amalric). And it is there that Martin meets his Alice (Juliette Binoche), a survivor in her own right, and steals her away from her platonic relationship with the homosexual Benjamin. Only a few clues are given regarding Alice's distressed beginnings, but any doubts we have regarding her suffering are erased simply by the anguished visage of Alice. Binoche's face is one seemingly crafted to convey pain. It serves her well, as Martin brings her nothing but. Initially she scoffs at his fumbling romantic overtures, but eventually she caves -- ostensibly out of passion, but mostly out of the irrepressible maternal instinct of a woman denied a mothering of her own. In Paris, Martin flourishes for a time in Alice's arms and as an Armani model but collapses when Alice informs the man (still reeling from being a son) that he soon will be a father himself. Martin suffers a nervous breakdown, and Alice must pick up the pieces. Binoche excels as Alice, creating perhaps her strongest role to date, and the fine linings age has brought her only lend a greater sense of tragedy to that face. Unfortunately, newcomer Loret simply does not hold his own. His vapid prettiness serves him well enough during his stint as a model, but when his character starts to break apart, so does Loret's credibility. Although Martin is given by far more exposition and character shadings, he cannot accomplish what Binoche and the subtly devastating Carmen Maura (as Martin's beleaguered stepmother) do with one-eighth the material. Delicately shot by Caroline Champetier in such locales as the Alhambra, the French hillside, and the gloomy Paris Métro and accompanied by a haunting score by Philippe Sarde with a contribution by Jeff Buckley (his voice the aural apotheosis of heartbreak), Alice et Martin comes so close to rendering real tragedy. And, with its wealth of talented supporting players, it could have, had we been given Alice and Martin's Half-Brother Benjamin, or Alice and the Put-Upon but Ceaselessly Strong Stepmother of Martin. Alas, we have Alice et Martin -- and something that falls just shy of greatness.

READ MORE
More André Téchiné Films
In the Name of My Daughter
The Affaire Le Roux, a famous missing-person case, is the subject of this French drama

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 22, 2015

Wild Reeds
Certain scenes in Téchiné's award-winning film Wild Reeds crackle with unresolved sexual tension: Two attractive boys speed on a scooter through golden-hued farmland in rural ...

Alison Macor, Nov. 10, 1995

More by Kimberley Jones
<i>Tower</i> Lands on Oscars Doc Shortlist
Tower Lands on Oscars Doc Shortlist
15 advance, including local film about the UT shootings

Dec. 6, 2016

The Edge of Seventeen
Teen dramedy gets the growing pains right

Nov. 18, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Alice et Martin, André Téchiné, Juliette Binoche, Carmen Maura, Mathieu Amalric, Alexis Loret, Marthe Villalonga

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)