As I began watching this film, After Fall, Winter, I had little to no sympathy for the main character, Michael. He’s practically bankrupt, owing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he’s depressed, his latest book isn’t selling, and he even seems to consider suicide, holding a handful of Ambien. Fortunately, his Parisian friend calls him and suggests he come to Paris, get away from it all.
If he’d stayed in New York, I wouldn’t have even bothered to watch the film. That’s how much I disliked his character. And it didn’t get any better.
Once in Paris (also, I have no idea how he managed to pay for an airline ticket given that he’s so in debt, but I’ll suspend disbelief), he runs into a young woman, Sophie, at a petit magasin. She is buying oranges, and he comes into the shop, and without even saying bonsoir, he tries to hit on her. She ridicules him to the shopkeeper, and he is clueless. But he keeps running into her, at a rack of vélos, at yoga class, and she keeps turning him down when he tries to ask her out. Finally, she allows him to walk with her, (‘just a walk. We don’t call it a date, in France.’) and they begin a relationship.
They have discussions about many things, but eventually it turns to sex, and BDSM. She asks him about his fantasies, and Michael is dismissive of many of them, and unwilling to be truthful about his desires (even though he’d told her several times before that he never lied.) And a good part of the film is the two of them discussing various subjects, either in bed or walking around Paris, and in that way it reminds me of films like ‘Before Sunset’. Unfortunately, I think that Michael is very self-absorbed for too much of the film. Sophie is self-absorbed as well (most everyone is to some extent, after all), but she at least manages to live a life where she interacts with others and tries to do good. Michael interacts very little with anyone beyond more than a casual degree, (and he even does not seem to see his Parisian friend very often, though his friend invited him to stay.)
Regrettably, this film is disappointing. I will not spoil the ending for those wanting to watch, but for me it merely solidified my opinion of Michael, and his selfishness led to the ruin of the lives of others. I don’t need a happy ending (I watch too much film noir to ever expect it), but at the very least I would hope that the characters actually grow as people. Perhaps past the ending, Michael does regret what has happened and learns from it, but given his previous record, I am rather cynical. Still, the writer (and director, and star) did manage to get me to watch the film in its entirety, so that’s something. 😉