06/10/15 5:00am
06/10/2015 5:00 AM |

Romy Schneider and Michel Piccoli in Claude Sautet’s LES CHOSES DE LA VIE (1970). Courtesy: Rialto Pictures / Studiocanal; Photo by Claude Mathieu

Les choses de la vie (1970)
Directed by Claude Sautet
Sautet made quietly masterful melodramas about lives lived in contemporary France. He paid exquisite attention to the reverberations that came from choices his characters made to live apart or together, in one place or another, and in conflict between their public roles and private wants. Les choses de la vie (“The things of life”), Sautet’s fourth feature and first commercial success, is among five of his films whose new digital restorations will receive their US premieres this month. It is also among his collaborations (five each) with the actors Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider, who star as the middle-aged engineer Pierre and his younger mistress Hélène, for whom Pierre once might have left his wife Catherine (Léa Massari). The film unfolds largely inside Pierre’s mind following a car accident, as he transmutes his physical pain into reflections on and regrets about his relationships with both women. Its story takes place within a distended version of time that allows us to flash back and move forward in observation of all three people as they decide how to reveal their feelings, and as they break their own hearts over lies. Aaron Cutler (June 12-18, showtimes daily, as part of a program of Rialto Pictures Sautet restorations at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas)