1 April 2008

Les Temps qui Changent by Téchiné, 2006

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 7:13 am

Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve walk along the littoral in Tangier. Beyond here there is nothing, says Deneuve. But here the sea begins, Depardieu replies, and the ferry is crossing the strait, and today we can see Spain across the water.

changing nothing

changing mcdo




  1. utterly fantastic movie all the more so because it’s humanist, but not in any Communist way, I mean with a real sense of what makes us all human; I think only a postcolonial French burgeois could deliver this material without falling into crappy middle class sentimentality and Techine does, beautifully. There is real and unfaked poignancy in the developments between Deneuve and Depardieu, and in the underlying bitter commentary on colonial relationships. I will be back tomorrow with more detailed comment.


    Comment by parodycenter — 2 April 2008 @ 5:56 pm

  2. Every possible two-way relationship is explored, and each one hints at a complex history of depth and uncertainty. Mostly there is love in some of the many forms it takes: idealized and obsessive, lustful and covert, stale and resentful, fearful and jealous, kind and responsible, repressed and recaptured. It’s a mature and as you say non-sentimental meditation on love.

    I’m not sure I understand the French-Moroccan cultural nuances, other than the most obvious one of the girl who wears the headscarf and can’t be seen with men but who possibly runs off to Casa with Catherine’s husband. And also the money: the Moroccan boy who works as a caretaker for the absentee French landowner, pridefully resentful of his French lover’s affluent Parisian life; the girl who won’t see her twin sister mostly because of shame and envy. But you also get the sense of the Parisian life being corrupt, inauthentic, dehumanizing. Deneuve is so cold and hard, but when finally she thaws she is sentimental and loyal: maybe it’s the return from colonial aloofness to authentic Frenchness. I’ll look forward to your further remarks, PC.


    Comment by ktismatics — 2 April 2008 @ 7:18 pm

  3. I wonder if Deneuve has been uncomfortable during her entire long sejour in Africa. She lives in an isolated house on the outskirts; she doesn’t speak Arabic and needs someone to translate for her on her own radio show, yet she regards this show as her main source of autonomy in this foreign land. Her husband too is foreign to her: Moroccan and (I believe) Jewish. Depardieu is a Frenchman: sentimental, well-to-do, in love with love. This whole aspect of herself, her Frenchness, she has repressed. Was she already cold before this repression, or is that what’s made her emotionally numb? She sees emptiness at the seashore, because she refuses to acknowledge the Europe that calls her to itself. She lives in a border town, and she won’t go further into Africa with her husband for his sake — she needs to see the escape route, even though she won’t acknowledge it to herself. And her husband heeds Africa’s call: he goes to Casablanca, he pursues the Muslim girl, he lets his wife go.


    Comment by ktismatics — 2 April 2008 @ 8:00 pm

  4. Thanks for telling, I put it on my list.


    Comment by Odile — 3 April 2008 @ 2:41 am

  5. The movie is somewhat similar in tone to Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, especially for the sense of looming chaos you sense from accidental encounters and twists, although I hated the LA characters in the Cuts – all New Age and yuppie sleazoids preoccupied with their narcissism. In Les Temps, the characters seem real and vulnerable. I was esp. impressed by the portrayal of the French bi-curious bottom’s relationship with the Moroccan top, which is simultaneously perverse (because the Frenchman uses it as compensation for the lack of maleness he suffers in his relationship with the girl, to whom he cannot provide fatherly protection) and bold (as they both use it to counter their respective societies). I loved the moment when Deneuve and Depardieu meet again, and there’s an exquisite flicker of old burgeois romance movies, as only these two actors could provide – she tells him to turn off the light. In the end I think the positive message is that one must dare to cross the borders, even as politically they may be even stronger than in the times of the Cold War. These types of courageous decisions, such as the Moroccan’s husband’s to pursue his true affection, or Depardieu’s to seek out his eternal flame, is what life is all about.


    Comment by parodycenter — 3 April 2008 @ 2:39 pm

  6. I’d say Deneuve’s character is the Western matriarch, hence her coldness and rigidity. This is nicely contrasted with Moroccan patriarchal dilemmas. To answer your q by the way Moroccan society is like other Mediterranean ones, only they are far more polite and forgiving than French or Dutch people.


    Comment by parodycenter — 3 April 2008 @ 2:47 pm

  7. “In the end I think the positive message is that one must dare to cross the borders”

    Maybe so. Crossovers by ethnicity, by gender, by age, by financial status, by time — each of these border crossings proved a test of bravery. For Deneuve it means crossing back over to Europe, which could be regarded either as an indictment of Eurocentrism or a comment on the French needing to leave the Moroccans alone to live their own lives. I still think Deneuve (who I agree often presents a cold and rigid demeanor) felt chronically uncomfortable and out of place as a Frenchwoman in Morocco. She even dominated her Moroccan husband like a colonial maitresse, telling him not to clean the pool, to put a shirt on, that she wouldn’t move for the sake of his work, etc.

    Thanks for your thoughts on Moroccan culture, though I was expressing more my curiosity about cultural crossings as expressed in the movie. When I was twenty I lived in Tangier for several months, which was one reason I wanted to see the movie. Almost everything in the movie took place in the French quarter: we saw the old town only from a distance, and only very briefly from the street level. That was a source of the alienation for the Moroccan characters in this movie: even in their home country they were still serving the French masters — and also the American ones, as evidenced by the girl’s job at McDonald’s.

    Your observation about “polite and forgiving” was something I experienced as a foreigner living in France. I found myself making acquaintances more easily with fellow expatriates from all over the world, whereas getting to know French people seemed to require a connection. I bet that’s true practically anywhere in the world. You being a foreigner in Holland probably find more affinity with the non-Dutch and the non-Western Europeans.


    Comment by ktismatics — 3 April 2008 @ 6:32 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: