Let the Sunshine and Juliette Binoche in
According to conversations in the ladies’ room of Water Read Theatre, this one did not go well with American audience. It was taken for a story of a depressed middle aged woman sleeping around with anyone who would go for it.
— Barely sat though that one. Bo-ring.
— Talking and taking about nothing.
— All the time, I wanted to tell her: calm down and stop already. Ha-ha. You’re done.
The plot is pretty much what they said: a middle aged woman going around having sex with different men eventually being dumped this way or another. But she keeps going.
But this is it — she keeps going. And she is not looking for sex. Bedroom and bedroom conversations are another way people express their egos, and selves, and motivations. This is another angle to look at life. An here it is erotic, not graphic.
Somehow in American culture, after a certain age, a woman is expected to fold: sagging skin and gray hair are probably major visual factors. Americans go for visual effect, there’s no time, need, or attention span to look beyond the gravity pull.
It is different in other places. Here’s just one parallel: Meryl Streep and Isabelle Huppert. Two actors of the same magnitude, same generation with equal power, insight, and intelligence. The difference — the material they are offered to work with.
Meryl Streep was Florence Foster Jenkins, Kay Graham (The Post), The Witch (Into the Woods), Julia Child, Sister Beauvier (The Doubt). There were Iron Lady, August: Osage County.
Isabelle Huppert had School of Flesh, The Piano Teacher, Ma Mére, Private Property, Hidden Love, Villa Amalia, White Material and her latest great one Elle.
The first one is a comical singer, a powerful publisher, an evil witch, a chef, a clergy member, a prime minister, a matriarch destroyed by substance, who all happen to be female. The other one is a woman, a woman, a woman, who happened to be a business executive, a piano teacher, a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur.
Sexuality of a middle aged woman in American culture is either absent, or a joke, or a condescending suggestion. It’s part of life in Europe, where people are real: fat, old, bold, gray, with skin folds and pores — they are alive and desiring and wanting to be desired and not denied that. There’s more beyond visual.
Here’s another thing. The grossly mistranslated title of the movie. No. More than that — English version reverses the idea completely. I do not speak French but I’ve become aware of the English misinterpretations of some French words and titles. The major one — “Remembrance of Things Past” which was actually “Search for the Times Lost.” Different, no? The French title of this movie is “Un Beau Soleil Intérieur.” With the help of google translate, it was this : “beau — beauty,” “soleil — sunshine,” “intérieur — within.” “Let the Sunshine in.” Really? Maybe “Beautiful Sunshine Within…”
Isabelle, a beautiful, strong, independent, intelligent woman, an artist who has so much to offer is trying to figure out who she is and to find the one. She is a woman in constant doubt about herself — what can be more interesting? She knows what she wants and she won’t compromise — this is the benefit of middle age. She knows there will always be another chance. She gives a lot and she asks for a lot.
In her life, there are an obnoxious married banker, torn and self-absorbed actor, unpleasant ex-husband who is the father of her daughter, some unimpressive working class stranger and his competitor, Isabelle’s bohemian skittish friend, and some other man who rejects her point blank… They all pull away because they feel she takes more than anyone of them have to offer. They fold.
In that search, she reaches out to a psychic — an unexpected appearance of an eccentric Gerard Depardieu, now my compatriot, by the way — who, after his own break up, is beating around the bush, in a long monologue over credits, trying to show her the way: there’s so much inside you, no one will give you more. The light is within. And she says: Yes, Yes, but that other one?..
It is one of those movies that cannot be completely understood in one sitting. There’s so much to the experience of middle age.
Charlotte helped me put my thoughts together.
There are also Marvel movies to watch coming up soon.