Love is a many splendid, complicated thing. It’s no secret. In his 2012 film, You, Me and Us, director Jacques Doillon seeks to shed new light on a subject as old as time. Structured as a triptych, Doillon’s story depicts three stages of a crumbling relationship and the blossoming of another—but which relationship is failing and which is flourishing? For most of the film, it’s hard to say, and that is exactly what makes You, Me and Us as intriguing as it is infuriating. At the film’s opening, Aya (an enigmatic Lou Doillon) reopens communication with her emotionally flighty ex-husband Louis, with whom she has a young daughter, Lina. Much to the dismay of Aya’s serious boyfriend, Victor, she begins to see Louis frequently, and it becomes clear that she is torn between the two men.
The intense chemistry Aya shares with both Victor and Louis lends credence to her indecision; Victor is caring and loyal—the polar opposite of Louis—and has earned the trust of young Lina. Indeed, Lina’s increasing confusion over her mother’s behavior is reflected in an impish attitude toward her own moral development. Aya fears Lina’s judgment, yet can’t seem to pull herself together to protect her daughter. Doillon’s film raises interesting questions about moral corruption, the power of nostalgia, and the significance of sex in relationships. Running at a lengthy 136 minutes, though, one almost wishes that Aya would make a decision and put the poor, desperate gentlemen out of their misery.
You, Me and Us makes its New York premiere on Monday, March 4th at Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. For ticket information, please visit http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/rendez-vous-with-french-cinema.