2 Autumns, 3 Winters

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2 Automnes 3 Hivers

There’s a seductive undertow of gravity to this lively, engagingly self-aware Parisian romcom.

Year: 2013
Country: France
Running time: 93 mins
Censor Rating: M - sex scenes, offensive language, drug use

Screenplay: Sébastien Betbeder
Producer: Frédéric Dubreuil
Photography: Sylvain Verdet
Editor: Julie Dupré
Music: Bertrand Betsch
Sound: Roman Dymny
In French with English subtitles

With: Vincent Macaigne, Maud Wyler, Bastien Bouillon

Festivals: Cannes (ACID) 2013

The gregarious charm of 2 Autumns, 3 Winters is the year’s loveliest left-field surprise. Arman (Vincent Macaigne) is a 33-year-old Parisian slacker – and self-deprecating livewire. He is out running one morning – which is something new – when he collides with Amelie (Maud Wyler). She’s an oddly impassive beauty, and always quick to let it be known that she wishes her parents had called her anything other than Amelie. Arman thinks she’s stunning, but it will take another, more bruising encounter, in the streets of Bastille, to secure Amelie’s attention.

The bumpily congenial coupledom of Arman and Amelie gives the film its heart. Their love affair advances alongside that of Arman’s art-school buddy Benjamin, and Benjamin’s new girlfriend, Rita. These two have none of Arman and Amelie’s rough edges, and their story may run smoother, but it too begins with an unexpected blow. Much of this film’s arresting emotional intelligence resides in its matter-of-fact grasp of the random impact of ill health and urban crime on ordinary lives.

Though dark clouds may gather occasionally, there’s nothing especially ominous about the film’s preference for autumn and winter: some people simply prefer the chillier seasons. There’s Christmas. They can head for the Alps, and the clothes are better.

It should be added that each of the three principals recount their highs and lows – often as they undergo them – to camera and with a fetching mix of impulsive disclosure and sheer bemusement. The film fairly jumps with pop-up references to the films and music and food that lend pleasure and insight to the way these thoughtful, unassuming, likeable people live their lives – and tell their stories.