One day, Nathalie's husband announces he is leaving her for another woman. With freedom thrust upon her, Nathalie must re-invent her life.
Her husband leaves her. Shortly afterwards, her mother dies after a long and painful illness. Having headed up a publishing house's philosophy imprint for 25 years, Nathalie is laid off in favor of younger, pragmatic editors. As is often the case in life, one misfortune leads to another in a bleak, unrelenting series. It is still not enough to make Nathalie give up. She clings to whatever he can – her work, her friendship with a former student, her faith in passing on knowledge – and keeps on going without ever yielding to despair.
Who hasn't met a woman abruptly deserted after years of marriage? It's a familiar story but, curiously, I don't feel that the cinema has ever told it. In fact, it's a subject that is avoided, skirted around as if there were a taboo.
The point is not to depress the audience with the cruel fate of women, but rather to reach a form of lucidity, a truth that, I hope, may be cathartic; a truth that has no claim to be absolute, but simply responds to experience and observation as I wish to share them.
A vision, not an answer. I am not above my character and I know no more than her about life. I have always been touched by films that question rather than films that explain or deliver lectures: What is the meaning of all this? What gives us the strength to keep going? Where does this mysterious love of life come from?
Going back to the idea of a portrait, to my mind, it signifies fixing in time a presence, simply saying that it exists and showing the beauty of that existence. A quote from Vladimir Jankélévitch, which touches on the nature of my films, comes to mind: "The person who has been can no longer not have been; from now own this mysterious and deeply obscure fact of having lived is his or her provision for eternity."
What matters most deeply to me is the need to approach this mystery – the unfathomable nature of interiority, as embodied by an actress on the one hand and by the coherence of the story on the other. In that respect, I am attached to cinema that embraces storytelling and where directorial considerations are central. My films and characters exist in a substantive territory, where time passes.
Fiction, as opposed to sequencing "narrative conflicts" or resorting to slender and conventional psychology, enables me to articulate substance (love of a character, quest for a truth) and style (balance between silence and speech, plot and the moment, movement and duration). How can one capture life within and offer access to another dimension, however spiritual? This question – of the invisible—accompanies me throughout the film.
I wrote this film with a very intense feeling of limpidity, or even plenitude. I shy away from quick fixes and reworkings—technical artifices that do not stem from a deep-rooted necessity. In that respect, I try to protect the impulse and clarity with which this story and these characters imposed themselves upon me, and the way they swept me along.
For me, incarnation and emotion are contingent on the shoot, determined by the actors' performances as much as by the blocking and direction. The script is merely a stage in the process. A promise. What touches me in movies depends less on the impact of the writing than on what moves the filmmakers—their vision of people, the way they see the world, their actors ... Otherwise, the shoot would be a mere formality.
I believe in sobriety in the reconstitution of feelings. I think it shows in my films. Above all, this is the manifestation of my respect for the human element, its wealth of nuances, secrets and contradictions. I know it may seem like distance, but it is in fact the opposite – the attention and acuity sought by the person who attempts, with the tools of cinema, to capture a reality so fragile, so moving, that it is constantly slipping through our fingers.
Above all, it is my confidence in this project, in the universality of the woman on screen and in my capacity to bring her to life that I want to share with you. And the hope that you will be receptive to the sincerity and rigour that have always carried my films and are perpetuated by L'AVENIR.
When seventeen years old, she was cast by Olivier Assayas before she began formal training in 2001 at the Paris Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique, at the same time as German studies.
Between 2003 and 2005, she wrote for "Cahiers du Cinéma" and directed a few short-films.
2014 - EDEN
2011 - GOODBYE FIRST LOVE
2009 - FATHER OF MY CHILDREN
2005 - ALL IS FORGIVEN
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Mia Hansen-Løve
Written by: Mia Hansen-Løve
Produced by: Charles Gillibert
Cinematography: Denis Lenoir
Editing: Marion Monnier
Production Design: Anna Falguères
Costume Design: Rachèle Raoult
Make-Up & Hair: Thi Loan Nguyen
Sound Design: Vincent Vatoux
Main Cast: Isabelle Huppert (Nathalie), André Marcon (Heinz), Roman Kolinka (Fabien), Edith Scobe (Yvette), Sarah Le Picard (Chloé), Solal Forte (Johann)
Nominations and Awards
- Feature Film Selection 2016