Nominated for eight César awards in its native France, PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES is an intelligent, adult look at loneliness in the twenty-first century. Directed by French master Alain Resnais (LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR), the film examines the interrelated lives of six main characters who are trying desperately but failing at making real, long-lasting connections.
Charlotte (a bewitching Sabine Azéma) is a Bible-reading real estate agent who takes care of Lionel's (Pierre Arditi) vile, ailing father at night. Thierry (André Dussollier), a coworker of Charlotte's, is showing apartments to Nicole (Laura Morante) and Dan (Lambert Wilson), an engaged couple who can't agree on anything. And Gaëlle (Isabelle Carré), who lives with Thierry, her older brother, is looking for love through the personal ads but instead keeps coming home alone. Based on the play by Alan Ayckbourn, PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES is beautifully shot by Eric Gautier, particularly the scenes in the colorful bar where Lionel works and Dan drinks away his frustrations. Scenes are linked together by falling snow, adding a chilling cold to the pervasive loneliness.
The acting is uniformly excellent, with especially good turns from Azéma, Arditi, and Morante, who won the Francesco Pasinetti Best Actress award at the 2006 Venice Film Festival, which also awarded octogenarian Resnais the Silver Lion as Best Director. Resnais eschews modern technology in this carefully stylized world; the characters don't spend their time endlessly on computers and cell phones, and Charlotte even gives Thierry a videotape to watch, one that has been taped over many times yet still retains some of its previous recordings, as if parts of the past can never be erased.