Peindre ou Faire L’Amour – Or “Soft Porn for Seniors?”


Peindre ou Paire L’Amour (Paint or Make Love) directed by Arnaud Larrieu and Jean-Marie Larrieu with Sophie Azema, Daniel Auteuil, Amira Cesar and Sergi Lopez. The Cannes critics loved it! Why don’t I agree?

The adjectives are flying: voluptuous, inspired, a marvelous film about desire,not the slightest hint of vulgarity,an enchanting comedy. Wickedly ‘charnel’ and suave. With such accolades, do I dare protest?
The film lacks passion in spite of the fact that it’s the story of a middle aged couple (fifties) trying to rekindle their passion for one another with an ideal backdrop (the Alps).
The plot is simple: Husband William retires. Doesn’t know what to do. Wife, Madeleine,paints landscapes, usually. Wife finds perfect fixer upper in the country while on a painting expedition (and meets the mayor of the town who happens to be blind). Wife finagles husband into buying country house, they meet the mayor (Adam)’s wife Eva and Eva asks Madeleine to paint her portrait (nude) because “No one has actually seen me for a long time). This is the opening gambit followed by blind Adam pretending to mistake Madeleine for his own wife.
This is a lovely ‘feel good’ film to see if you’re looking for a jaunt in the Alps for a foray into ‘partner swapping’ with some very tasteful skin shots. (if you like middle aged women bouncing around looking like born again teenagers) (This doesn’t in any way diminish the acting skills of any of the actors or actresses – they are all exceptionally good, Daniel Auteuil in particular is at his best).
From the viewpoint of plot: Parner swapping does not a plot make.
For those who’ve ‘been there, done that’ the encounters look like an exercise in banality.
What is the author bringing to the party here? Adam’s blindness is supposed to open up a whole new world of sensory perception to Madeline and William, but even that plane of experience is reduced to a walk through the woods at night with Adam leading the way for Madeleine and William.
We never know much about Adam and Eva except how their presence or lack of presence sets Madeline and William into a spin.
I kept waiting for something to ‘happen’. When the Adam and Eva’s house burns down and they lose all of their belongings, the couple’s reaction (compared to what we’ve been seeing in New Orleans) seems understated – to say the least.
Otherwise the acting performances of all four are without reproach.
Peindre ou faire l’amour just doesn’t come close to any of Eric Rohmer’s films that team with rich sensuous layers of dialogue (which should have been a key part of this film considering the theme of blindness). I think too much of Peindre Ou Faire l’Amour must have ended up on the editing floor. That being said, it’s worth going to see for yourself. There’s nothing like a pretty mountain picture when your sitting in Paris – but don’t hold your breath for the passion to begin. It’s just a one night stand.

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