Lover for a Day
When Jeanne (Esther Garrel) moves back in with her father, Gilles (Éric Caravaca), after breaking up with her boyfriend, she discovers her father is now involved in a relationship with one of his students, Ariana (Louise Chevillotte). From herein, Philippe Garrel’s Lover for a Day becomes an elegant and honest study of love, lust and fidelity. Despite moments of outstanding filmmaking, however, the underwhelming and uninspired plot unfortunately inhibits the movie from being truly special.
Shot in stylish black and white, Lover for a Day is meticulously and painstakingly put together to invoke a grounded and realistic depiction of people getting to grips with various forms of relationships, whether it be romantic, familial or friendship. Composed primarily of long static and tracking shots, Garrel’s close framing of the characters generates a raw sense of intimacy that projects both the highs and lows of their plights effectively onto viewers. Likewise, there are moments of endearing cinematic beauty to lose ourselves in, which highlight the artistry on display. Given the standard of greatness that has been achieved throughout the movie, it is disappointing that these moments are few and far between, scattered throughout an onslaught of mediocrity that grinds the picture to a halt far too often.
Thankfully, even within the film’s dullest sequences, every actor gives consistently excellent performances. Esther Garrel’s portrayal in particular feels completely natural and believable; her interactions with the other characters and actions, even during the feature’s most dramatic sequences, feel entirely human. When coupled with the subdued method of filmmaking, the performances are reinforced with a compelling verisimilitude.
The use of music here is noteworthy also, but perhaps not for the intended reasons. Throughout the picture, a melancholic piano piece is used to underline moments of interest between characters. Though the composition itself is beautiful and initially succeeds in creating an endearing atmosphere, it soon becomes overly melodramatic due to how much these moments stand out against an otherwise silent musical soundscape, consequently distorting the desired effect.
There is no denying that Lover for a Day contains outstanding moments of filmmaking and performances. The question of whether or not viewers will enjoy it largely depends on how much they’re able to look past the overwhelming mediocrity that overshadows an otherwise masterful feature.
Lover for a Day is released in selected cinemas on 19th January 2018.
Watch the trailer for Lover for a Day here: