Friday, October 19, 2007


Usually, French films haunt you by their atmosphere, by their lethargy-inducing pace, by the thick rings of smoke and philosophy that encircle you. But in The Accompanist it is the eyes of the protagonist, Romane Bohringer, which fix you in their grip, which haunt you for long after you're done with the film, which trouble you with questions about a woman's role in the subplots of this world.
The film is a story about an accompanist, Bohringer (playing Sophie Vasseur), to a rich, famous, selfish singer (Yelena Safanova playing Irene Brice). Coming from a poor background, and having an intelligent and quick brain, Sophie soon makes herself indispensable to Irene, utilizing the latter's many love affairs to her advantage. But the resentment of not having had all this never leaves Sophie - she feels herself the better, the more intelligent (and more talented as well?) woman, one who should have had the kind of pampering Irene gets, one who should have got the love of the young revolutionary Jacques Fabert, more of her age than Irene's, one who has to learn bows from Irene though her whole life is nothing but a series of bows. Is it a right that you were given from above? asks Sophie directly to Irene, in one of the best scenes of the movie - a moment, when it did come out of Sophie.

The film's rock pillars are the tour de performance by Romane Bohringer and the tragic beauty of hopeless, unrequited love in two aspects - that of Charles Brice for his wife, Irene, and that of Sophie for the world for which she does not exist, unless she flirts or unless she becomes famous or rich. Brice' love is, simply said, heroic - it reminded me of the love that Gabriel Oak bore to Bathsheba in Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, the book. And in that perspective, the double-cross of Irene and Fabert becomes very despicable. In a curious role reversal to the usual film fare, it's the businessman Brice here who holds the viewer's complete sympathy against the revolutionary. The tragedy of the film was inevitable - Charles Brice had loved more like a woman than a man. He had loved truly - that is only for once. Let the glass be dashed to pieces before drinking from any other.

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