In The Shadow of Women, Philippe Garrel’s ironic romantic film, maps out in brushstrokes the causes and consequences of extra-marital affairs. Stanislas Merhar and Clotilde Courau play a married couple, fortyish Parisian documentarians still striving to breakthrough. He’s sullen, stoic, aloof. She’s jumpy, emotional, solicitous. Upon a chance meeting with a young archivist (Lena Paugam), he embarks on an affair; his reasoning is drolly recapped via voiceover by Louis Garrel. Renato Berta’s 35 mm black-and-white cinematography accentuates the womens’ beauty when they’re in love, coarsens it when they’re not. Jean-Louis Aubert’s score is minimal; when present it underscores the humorous melodramatic thrusts of the movie. Though brisk, In the Shadow of Women seems spacious.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White