Release Date: April 14th, 2006 (Cinema Village) by Koch Lorber Films. DVD Release Date: May 2nd, 2006.
The Cast: Fanny Ardant, Emmanuelle Béart, Gérard Depardieu, Wladimir Yordanoff, Judith Magre, Rudolphe Pauyly.
Directed by Anne Fontaine.
In French with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: Believing that her husband Bernard (Depardieu) is cheating on her, Catherine (Ardant) secretly hires a prostitute named Marlène (Béart) to seduce him and share with her all of the details.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: With a more imaginative plot, Nathalie could have been suspenseful and surprising. The real motives of Catherine, Marlène, and Bernard are uncertain, although it’s obvious that Catherine wants Marlène to tell her all the secrets of her seductive affair with Bernard. But why does she hire Marlène in the first place rather than investigate his infidelity on her own? Why should the audience care? To begin with, Catherine and Bernard don’t have enough chemistry as a couple who have been married for 25 years. It would have helped to include a first act showing how Catherine and Bernard had met and fallen in love rather than begin with her suspecting he has an affair. What were those 25 years like? Ardant, Béart, Depardieu each give convincing performances in their roles, but Béart’s performance is truly the most radiant here. Béart helps make Marlène —codenamed Nathalie— into a sexy, seductive, and complex character. It’s fun to just listen to her talk dirty as she tells Catherine exactly how she had sex with Bernard. Unfortunately, Catherine comes across as one-dimensional and unlikable while there are not enough scenes with Bernard to show his character development. Is Marlène telling the truth or not? That’s the ultimate question during the second act. However, director/co-writer Anne Fontaine makes the answer far too easy to predict long before the credits role.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Too predictable.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
IN A NUTSHELL: Emmanuelle Béart gives a radiant performance, but the predictable plot and unimaginative characters diminish any intended mystery, suspense or drama.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "N" Menu