Sunday, June 22, 2008


Being familiar with the work and life of Françoise Sagan I wasn’t sure what to expect from a biopic, as this is one woman that I find hard to describe and harder to portrait based on what I know and the kind of books she wrote. Then this author is one that influenced my life more than I want to admit and whatever I was going to see, it had to be tainted by my personal experience and perceptions.

The film is not exactly what I was hoping for, but it is acceptable as a reduced 2 hours version of what originally is a two parts made for TV movie, “Un Charmant Petit Monstre” and "Des Bleus à l’âme", each lasting 90 minutes. Easily you can tell that this is a reduced version as there are many situations that just come -or end- out of the blue. So, knowing her life is a must as will be the only way to fill the many gaps the narrative has.

Still, Sylvie Testud that plays Sagan does a great work with what she describes as Diane Kurys (the director) vision of Sagan, as when she was developing her character she had interviews with some Sagan friends and not surprisingly for me, she found that each person described Sagan differently.

In a twist that I imagine is done for the movie, as it recalls too much the beginning of La Môme, the film starts almost at the end of her life and fast goes back to when she wrote her first and most famous work Bonjour Tristesse and continues telling the sequential story of a young woman (she was 19-years-old) turned celebrity from one day into the other thanks to the success of her book. Her life is not as dramatic, as many others, as I believe is a life of a woman that always wanted to be alone by choice and even when most of her life she was surrounded by husbands, friends and lovers, she always by choice was and felt lonely. Also her family was wealthy so there is no poor to riches story here. But, it is dramatic enough to create a better screenplay and portrait of this great author.

The way the narrative is developed or Diane Kurys vision of Sagan, does not help to make an entertainment movie in the wider sense of the word, as with the fragments of her life that are shown you get the idea that she was a very selfish person, alcoholic, cocaine addicted, bad mother, and that took husbands and lovers as momentary life projects; the last has only one exception as the movie takes more time describing situations in the long term affair she had with Peggy Roche (Jeanne Balibar), but unfortunately does not apply to the other long term affair she had with Annick Geille, that I assume (but is not likely)is the Astrid character played by Arielle Dombasie. I know that Françoise Sagan was much more than this arid portrait of some of her true dark side; that, nonetheless, the dark side also allowed her to create such magnificent stories, some written in the most outstanding way.

Anyway, the movie has some moments where it really touches you and at the end I shred a tear or two, but generally speaking I think that is better to wait and see the three hours version that France 2 will air soon (September or October), as not only is the original version but perhaps with the extra 60 minutes the story will make more sense and Sagan portrait will be less fragmented that what it was in this movie.

As a movie it feels too much as a made for TV movie and the only thing that saves it is Sylvie Testud performance that at moments she really looks and moves like Sagan. So, my best suggestion is to skip this movie and wait until France 2 airs the complete made for TV movie. But, if you cannot wait and want to learn ‘something’ about Sagan’s life then perhaps you should give it a try.

Just for fun I include a clip from a Sagan interview that has her mentioning that she lost her dog… also gives you an idea about her personality that looks a lot better than the portrait this film shows.

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