Sami Frey, Romy Schneider, Yves Montand
César et Rosalie
César et Rosalie is for many their favourite Sautet, with a love triangle that is remarkable for its tender depiction of the relationship between the two men of different generations (Yves Montand, Sami Frey) competing for the heart of Rosalie (Sautet’s first great muse, Romy Schneider). The ending is up there with Bresson’s Pickpocket, the melancholic score (as in all Sautet films from Les Choses de la Vie) by Philippe Sarde.
Sautet would create an equally exquisite variation of this love triangle 20 years later with Un Cœur en Hiver (not screening in the Ritz season, but incandescent on the SUBTITLED STUDIOCANAL BLU-RAY). The two suitors are now of a similar age (André Dussollier, Daniel Auteuil), and their desired is played by Sautet’s second great muse, Emmanuelle Béart.
"...Sautet's first great muse..."
Romy Schneider, César et Rosalie
Béart also stars in Sautet’s final film, Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud, about an out-of-work and-love young woman who temps for a retired judge (Michel Serrault) while he completes his memoirs. This a love story that does not defy the 35-year age gap between the characters but explores the connections that exist because of it. The restaurant scene (with the Château d’Yquem), and the one when Nelly awakes while being gently observed, and the heart-stopping moment of reflection at the airport all demonstrate why Sautet is placed by some (including me) alongside Bresson.
In between César and Nelly, Sautet made (amongst others): Vincent, François, Paul … et les autres, his finest ensemble film, so rarely available with sub-titles, which celebrates the myriad bonds between men; UnMauvais Fils, also rare, exploring the friction between generations, in this case an ex-prisoner (Patrick Dewaere) and his unforgiving father (Yves Robert); and Quelques Jours avec Moi, an edgy and occasionally uncomfortable film, seldom seen, about a retrenched man (Daniel Auteuil) and his attempts to have a young woman (Sandrine Bonnaire) love him.
Sautet was never reluctant to tackle difficult subjects or delight in the love between men, and for women. He also made extraordinary films from a female perspective, including Une Histoire Simple and Mado, both radiant and precise, and staring Romy Schneider. (Neither is screening, but Pathé’s Blu-ray of Histoireis glorious and Pathfinder’s DVD of Madoa treasure.)
Sautet could do anything he sought to, with rare sensitivity and rigour.