This film begins with the observations of a young boy as he discovers that his father, Ivan (Didier Bezace), has been killed. Do we want to know why Ivan was killed or who killed him? No, instead we just hope that this isn't another version of "My Life as a Dog" in which the kid starts barking or something.
Director Andre Techine isn't particularly interested in why Ivan was killed either, but he sure is hell-bent on elucidating the detailed thought processes of everyone with even the remotest connection to Ivan. First off, we explore Ivan's cold relationship with his brother, Alex (Daniel Auteuil). Alex is sleeping with Juliette (Laurence Cote) who's sleeping with Marie (Catherine Deneuve), which irritates Alex. If you're keeping score, Juliette also happens to be the sister of Jimmy (Fabienne Babe) who works for Ivan as a car thief.
As Techine switches narrative voices -- going from the kid to Alex to Marie -- we're expected to fancy him as the French cinema's Faulkner. Unfortunately, such a structural facade takes neither a genius to understand nor one to create -- it only masks the French fascination with being unnecessarily difficult and annoying.
If only the theater managers could have provided a fat, sweaty guy's armpit for me to bury my face in, the whole French savoir-faire experience could have been complete.
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