Wednesday, June 3, 2009

La Fille seule (1995) aka A Single Girl

Rating: 7.2/10
Runtime: 86
Language: French (English hardcoded subs)
Country: France
Color: Colour
IMDb Link:

Director: Benoît Jacquot
Virginie Ledoyen... Valérie Sergent
Benoît Magimel... Rémi
Dominique Valadié... Valérie's mother
Véra Briole... Sabine
Virginie Emane... Fatiah
Michel Bompoil... Jean-Marc
Aladin Reibel... M. Sarre
Jean-Chrétien Sibertin-Blanc... Patrice
Guillemette Grobon... Mme Charles
Toni Cecchinato... Italian man
Giulia Urso... Italian woman
Matéo Blanc... Fabien, the child
Jean-Claude Frissung
Hervé Gamelin... Jean
Catherine Guittoneau... Jean's lover

Description: As Valerie, 19-year-old Virginie Ledoyen is not just the titular Single Girl, but for all practical purposes, the entire movie. As the film opens, she meets her sullen, unemployed boyfriend Remi (Benoît Magimel) at a cafe, and reveals that she is pregnant with his child. She is not only unsure about whether she should keep the child, but whether Remi would make a decent father if she did. She is also starting a new job as room service in an expensive hotel and promises to return to the cafe in an hour and tell Remi her decision. The bulk of the film consists of a real-time study of that critical hour. Valerie takes trays from room to room, and the camera follows every stair step, every elevator trip. There are interactions with peculiar guests, but none of them are particularly important characters. The focus is always on Valerie.

"A Single Girl" is an absorbing experience. Nothing really happens and there's not much dialogue, but it's completely engrossing. It's about a morning in the life of a hauntingly beautiful woman, Valerie, who's at a crossroads in her life. It's filmed in real time, meaning there are no cut-aways that skip time. If Valerie needs to get somewhere, we watch her walk to that place. There's no narration or "traveling" music. It's as if we are Valerie. What makes the film work so well is the wonderful, subtle performance by Virginie Ledoyen.

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