An Impossible Love
Adapted from the novel by Christine Angot and co-written and directed by Catherine Corsini, An Impossible Love chronicles the 50-year relationship between Rachel (Virginie Efira), a vibrant young woman from a working-class family, and Philippe (Niels Schneider), an eccentric and charismatic man from a wealthy family who disappears after Rachel becomes pregnant. With the father appearing only periodically to see their daughter Chantel, the film paints a complex portrait of the evolving relationships between each family member. Whilst the narrative is elegantly spun to cover such a long time period, often events can become bogged down in their own melodramatics, and with a massive runtime of 135 minutes, the final stretch of this familial odyssey is pure tedium.
The greatest strength of Corsini’s drama is in the strong performances by both Efira and Schneider, with the former being a particular highlight. Schneider is able to exude a screen presence that manages to walk the line between alluring and repulsive throughout, whereas Efira effectively demonstrates a wide emotional range that colours the various stages of her life and relationships that form the foundation of the film. Moreover, Estelle Lescure, who plays a teenage Chanel, gives an equally strong performance, with her section being the most enjoyable.
The narrative itself is presented in an understated but elegantly simplistic way. A voiceover from Chantel helps to establish the timeline of events with a personal connection, whilst the cinematography is pleasing without becoming the main attraction. The real challenge of the film is capturing half a century of life within the space of just over two hours. For the most part, what’s being focused on lends itself well to the overall drama, but large and constant time jumps (particularly towards the end) make it seem as if the movie is getting bored of itself and skipping to the end for us. Likewise, many smaller moments are of little consequence and bloat an already long runtime. Cutting 20 minutes from these sequences could have made for a more focused narrative and perhaps would have made the journey to the finish line more bearable.
Although it suffers from an overly padded runtime and occasionally stumbles on its own melodrama, An Impossible Love is nonetheless an intriguing and well-made feature that has a lot for audiences to love. It is practically impossible to hate this film.
An Impossible Love is released in select cinemas on 4th January 2019.
Watch the trailer for An Impossible Love here: