Too Beautiful for You

The French filmmaker Bertrand Blier, who won a best foreign film Oscar for Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, is a man obsessed with triangles. Most of his movies describe the fascinating dynamics that happen when three people get together.

Of course, two’s company and three is … a problem. And those problems are what Blier finds so interesting about human beings. In his newest film, Too Beautiful for You, he’s put a curve on his usual approach.

This film is about a husband (Gerard Depardieu) who strays from his happy marriage and finds a mistress. That’s the customary pattern, right? Except that his wife (Carole Bouquet) is every man’s fantasy of a mistress: gorgeous and glamorous and exciting. And the mistress (Josiane Balasko) is ordinary, comforting, and plain.

It’s an intriguing idea, and Blier plays it out with his typical dry humor, keen observation, and offhand philosophizing (“Love is like art – it requires a spark, a lot of patience, and a patina of time”).

This movie also has three good performances: Depardieu, the one-man French film industry, is fine; Bouquet, an actress best known over here for her Chanel No. 5 commercials, is indeed beautiful but also fiercely effective; and Balasko, a mousy presence at first glance, conveys great warmth and sexiness the longer she’s on screen.

Too Beautiful for You is a bit more difficult to get into than previous Blier films because the director has chosen to play the movie in a kind of dreamlike chronology. You’re never quite sure when things are happening, or even whether certain events are fantasies or reality. It’s disconcerting, but the cumulative effect is rewarding.

First published in The Herald, April 6, 1990

Depardieu was indeed busy; his next films over the following couple of years included his Oscar-nominated Cyrano, Claude Berri’s Uranus, and the Hollywood comedy, Green Card (in which he has some remarkable moments). Years later, he and Bouquet were an item, according to IMDb.

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