In a radical departure (just kidding) from his usual subject matter, writer-director Philippe Garrel’s In the Shadow of Women tackles marital infidelity. Pierre (Stanislaus Merhar) and Manon (Clothilde, Princess of Venice and Piedmont) are a reasonably happy married couple who produce documentary films together when Pierre’s eye starts to wander to the young archivist Elizabeth (Lena Paugam). Their affair begins with excitement, but soon jealousy starts to drive everyone’s actions.
Shot in black-and-white because colour stock was too expensive, the film feels like it could have been made in the 1960s New Wave — and its politics certainly haven’t advanced much — even though the characters have cell phones and modern cars. While Garrel’s previous effort, “Jealousy,” was full of quiet observations about how financial concerns can weigh on a relationship and the love between father and daughter, In the Shadow of Women offers no such insight. It’s a trifle, and an often enjoyable one if you don’t think too much about how the humour relies on outdated stereotypes, but it’s easily forgotten and missed.
“In the Shadow of Women” premiered in the Director’s Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It will screen in the Masters program at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015.