A scene from Un+Une, from Golden Globe nominee Claude Lelouch

Les Films 13

50 years ago French director Claude Lelouch made his classic A Man and A Woman which won the Golden Globe for best picture in the Foreign Language category. His newest film, Un+Une, is a modern variation on the same subject of the relationships between sexes so close to the director’s heart. Lelouch is (as he is in this film!) in his best element when he is adhering to his recurrent theme of destiny which rules people’s lives. And as a film maker he is arguably unsurpassed in telling a love story. His career spans six decades but the 79 year-old director (born October 30, 1937) still remains the unreconstructed romantic of French cinema.

Lelouch started his creative journey fifty years ago with A Man and a Woman, a simple but powerful love story, with beautiful music by now famous French composer Francis Lai, that in addition to the Globe earned Lelouch , the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The film became the hit at box office all over the world. His French New Wave contemporaries and many film critics did not care much for his open sentimentalism, but filmgoers could not care less for this criticism. Later Lelouch made another box office hit Les Misérables which won him another Golden Globe Award and the successful thriller Roman de Gare.

His new film is quite an unorthodox love story in which popular actor Jean Dujardin and top French film award Cesar winner Elsa Zylberstein play two no longer young people who unexpectedly fall in love on the backdrop of a complicated, contemporary India. Une+Une is Lelouch’s second collaboration with co-writer and current life partner Valérie Perrin, who previously worked with him on We Love You, You Bastard. In the story famous French film composer Antoine (Dujardin) comes to the Indian megalopolis Mumbai to record his music for a Bollywood version of Romeo and Juliet named Juliet and Romeo. Quite bored with writing music for another art house movie, Antoine meets Anna (Zylberstein), the troubled wife of the French Ambassador (Christophe Lambert) who is much older than Anna. Antoine has been suffering a recurring strong headache. He is also bothered by phone calls by his somewhat unstable musician girlfriend Alice (Alice Hanel), who constantly asks Antoine to marry her. A visit to a local doctor reveals that Antoine’s headache might be life threatening.

Anna pretends that she has an ideal relationship with her husband and is convinced that a child which she cannot conceive is the only thing marring their otherwise ideal marriage. India being India, with its numerous gurus and living “saints”, Anna embarks on a “fertility pilgrimage” to the holy city of Varanasi to be hugged and cured by the “hugging saint” Amma (playing herself). Self confident to a fault, Antoine is not particularly spiritual but he tags along on overcrowded Indian trains and allows himself to be hugged by Amma. As one might expect that trip has quite an unexpected (or maybe wholly expected?) consequences.