This was a beautiful, intricately immersive film. You wonder first at the simplicity of the oppositions – Camille the beautiful virtuoso violinist, her admirer and lover Maxime. Then Maxime’s business partner at the violin makers, Stephane -he is a seemingly cold and self-imposed observer of their lives. Then, after professing detachment and an inability to access the common layers of emotions, he seems drawn to Camille. He watches her speaking attentively, she suspects he has fallen into reverie. He almost admits as much, then draws back disappearing. She is intrigued. He attends some of her recording sessions of some Maurice Ravel sonatas. Then draws back once more, disappearing. At one point it comes to a head, all in the usual configuration of magic. They leave an event together, and rather than admit the passion that seems to be building Stephane cruelly tells her he seduced her just as a trick and a game to get at his business partner Maxime. She flees,and later returns to him causing a scene in a restaurant.
Now these layers of intricacy, moving back and forth – of a heart wintering, and every so often stepping forward to reveal a part of itself, then deceptively falling back – this points clearly at the deceptive intricacy of our intricate hearts the moment we start looking. It is only when we stop looking, when we act and feel that our hearts cease to winter, and live a life companionable to our-self and one each other. As Camille says, at one point exasperated with Stephane, ‘but it is simple’ – we are human, and we feel. And yet, Stephane persists with what Camille calls his ‘posture’ or ‘pose’ of imposed emotional exile – an intellectual strategy certainly, but is it authentic? Stephane insists it is, yet his behaviour, and his suggestive half-revelations suggest yet again that the intricacies of the heart are yet more deceptive. Camille asks him why he loves music if he does not feel emotion. Stephane says it is because ‘Music is the stuff of dreams’. But this amounts to saying it is an exiled habit for emotion, not non-emotion itself.
And finally, this wintering heart seems to reach air and sunlight – he opens wide the shuttered windows one morning – after his wife’s friend has begged him to come round and help her suffering and clearly seriously unwell husband to die. This was an act of love and mercy. And in a kind of telling finality, it showed a heart moved to action -finally declaring itself through an emotion something akin to love.