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Film review: Cet Amour-La

Jeanne Moreau and Aymeric Demarigny in "Cet Amour-La."
Jeanne Moreau and Aymeric Demarigny in "Cet Amour-La."
New Yorker Films

It's a good thing "Cet Amour-La" has Jeanne Moreau as its star; otherwise it doesn't have a whole lot going for it.

Still, having Moreau is more than a lot of movies can boast. Now in her sixth decade in show business, the 75-year-old actress can make just about any material watchable by simply being in it — even when it's as yawn-inducing as this character drama, which will likely have limited audience appeal.

The subject is late author Marguerite Duras, who — despite considerable acclaim — is not really a name known outside of literary circles. (Similar material was covered much more effectively in "Iris," among other such films.)

"Cet Amour-La" is based on writer Yann Andrea's remembrances of his 16-year relationship with Duras (played here by the still-luminous Moreau), who was by then in a state of semi-retirement and was suffering from a variety of ailments.

However, the arrival of the much-younger Andrea (Aymeric Demarigny) seems to reinvigorate Duras. In fact, with Andrea serving as her stenographer, she begins work on a new novel. She also tries to encourage him to pursue his own writing pursuits. And as the two share close quarters, the two lonely hearts begin sharing more — as Duras' young muse eventually becomes her lover.

To his credit, director Josee Dayan (who co-wrote this adaptation) does spare us from seeing some of the more explicit aspects of their relationship in this episodic film, which shifts back and forth over the entire 16-year period, often without rhyme or reason.

Attempts to lighten the mood seem a little desperate, as if even Dayan realized the material was too dour for such scenes as when Duras attempts to teach Andrea how to drive.

Also, neither character comes off too well. As played by Demarigny, Andrea seems a little pathetic and whiny. In fact, it's hard to imagine why Duras would put up with him, instead of the other way around.

"Cet Amour-La" is not rated but would probably receive an R for some mildly vulgar sexual talk, brief full male nudity and some brief sexual contact. Running time: 96 minutes.