Clélia, a photographer who hasn't spend time with a lot of guys, meets the strange but appealing nice guy Clève. They marry and all is seemingly perfect, until Némo the crime photographer comes into her life. She is drawn towards him but fights to resist and stay with her husband. But her husband doesn't believe her honesty.
"La fidélité" marks the 6th movie I watch by Polish director Andrzej Zulawski, and I thought I had seen what you could mark as his "style" in the other 5 films, but "La fidélité" is different. I don't know if some of the titles I haven't had the time to check out yet ("The Public Woman" sits and waits in my collection) share much with this one, but from what I can gather this is his most... normal movie. But to call it a normal movie is nonsense. It has many of his trademarks - great cinematography, crazy people, sex, etc. What makes this the most different, to me, is that it feels simpler. Easier to follow. There's plenty of thought and meaning put into it, of course, but anyone who has seen his work knows that his films aren't easy to watch. They're challenging the viewer in many ways, be it just by confusion, by being slow, or just having strong themes. "La fidélité" wasn't hard at all to watch, the 165 minutes seemed like a perfectly fine runtime for it. Isn't that weird? A movie like "Diabel", a real oddity, was shorter but felt so much longer. Yet I like them equally. "La fidélité" is by definition a more normal movie - it's drama and romance.
The story starts in a conversation between Clélia, a photographer with her own special "touch", and her mother where we find out that Clélia isn't one to date or sleep around - she hasn't found someone to love. Her mother gets her to realize that sometimes it doesn't have to be true love, sometimes you just need someone. With this in mind she eventually meets a nice guy that she settles with. He's a little odd and eccentric, but genuinely nice in every sense. He doesn't pretend to be something that he isn't. She marries him, but just before her wedding she meets a crime photographer from her company. She doesn't want this man, she doesn't love him, but she's attracted to him and is having a hard time staying away from him. She's afraid she won't be able to control herself around him. But when her husband finds out he doesn't believe that she hasn't done anything with him, and his jealousy becomes an obsession.
Like I said - by definition a normal movie. It's drama / romance. But there are so many other things that makes this movie as exciting as it is. There's the obvious one, where sex is a big theme in the film. The sex is often highly erotic while still being filmed in a rather regular fashion. Nothing graphic, though. Then the cinematography and overall style of the movie. It's much more slick than a regular TV drama, no doubt. Then one of my favorite parts of the movie is the side-plot of her as a photographer. Her style of taking pictures is to not look into the camera, but just take multiple shots at random. The photos are a blur, but they're interesting, and the way they use them in the film are interesting. Like putting them on the cover of the news papers and whatnot. There's a sense of Clélia being a very confident woman in the beginning, which makes her "sloppy" photography work. Then later in the movie when she's in a much worse state, with much more mental stress, she starts taking normal, non-blurred photographs. What the meaning behind this was, who knows, but it just made for an interesting symbolism of sorts. An artist that is confident and well can experiment, but if you're a mess - focus.
The photographs by the crime photographer are another part of the movie that I liked. They were great photos, and it actually became interesting to see the pics he had taken. Makes me wonder if they were taken for this movie or if they're from real photographers. Certainly found a few pictures I have a hard time believing were just for the movie. Usually I'm not interested in things like these - photographs by characters in movies are rarely noteworthy.
Zulawski's work is always somewhere between drama and surrealism. This movie isn't a complete exception since there are parts of the film that feel supernatural, almost. We have the idea of seeing ghosts coming back to us a couple of times, but it's never discussed within the film or anything. But you notice that the characters see them as well as we do.
Sophie Marceau is excellent in her role, and equally pretty to look at. You feel depth in her character, and her confidence is a breath of fresh air. She's not confident like you'd see Lindsey Lohan confident in whatever movie, but she does it with a sincerity. She's equally convincing when she's broken down.
I wasn't sure what I would think of "La fidélité" before I went into it. I love the work of Zulawski, but I knew that this one would be different. For one, it's a French movie instead of Polish - who knows what that will bring. But then I also heard that it was basicly purely romance. Nothing I'm against, just not something I find as entertaining as surrealism. But Andrzej Zulawski shows that he knows how to handle drama perfectly. And don't worry, there's a few doses of crazy in these characters as well. Luckily. "La fidélité" is a simple movie that works because it has a director that knows how to deal with odd personalities, and isn't afraid to change a couple of the rules.