Directed by Philippe Garrel
Philippe Garrel’s “Lover For A Day” allows us to immerse ourselves in a complex situation lived by father, daughter, and his lover. Gilles (Éric Caravaca), a philosophy professor, is openly dating and living with 23-year-old Ariane (Louise Chevillotte), one of her former students. She totally aimed at him, ultimately vanquishing the fierce resistance he was putting on her advances for one entire semester. It has been three months since the couple is living together in Gilles' Paris apartment, but an unexpected visitor, who is not exactly a stranger, changes somehow the dynamics of their lives. I'm talking about Gille’s daughter, Jeanne (director’s daughter Esther Garrel), who is the same age of her father’s girlfriend and was suddenly kicked out of her boyfriend’s apartment. Heavily disappointed and broken-hearted with her first amorous disillusion, she struggles to recover the balance, sank into a depressive state that makes her attempt to jump from a window. Unfortunately, this particular scene happens to be the less fruitful of a film that manages to catch our eye through the spectacular black-and-white cinematography by the veteran Renato Berta, a regular choice of Alain Resnais and Louis Malle in the past. The melancholic plot actually serves as scaffolding for these visual impressions.
Ariane becomes closer to Jeanne after saving her at the last minute. Knowing about each others’ secrets, they agree to keep Gilles misinformed - Ariane doesn’t mention Jeanne’s almost-fatal weakness while Jeanne doesn’t tell her dad that Ariane is the cover of an adult magazine.
It's obvious that these women want something different from their relationships. Unfaithful and luxurious, Ariane enjoys freedom in an open relationship that reveals to be ineffective in many ways, whereas Jeanne only wants her boyfriend back, remaining tied up to that afflictive agony that keeps bringing into her mind that she was dumped without prior notice.
Unfolding with an articulated storytelling and resorting to an occasional voiceover for that purpose, the film deals with love, infidelity, jealousy, and even risks throwing in some political ideas involving the Algerian war for independence.
Excavating moods and expressions, Garrel, who addressed these same topics in “Regular Lovers” and “Jealousy”, trails a bumpy road in this examination on the volatility of love and relationships. What you will see is classy cinema, framed with a stylish retro glow, but not devoid of a few uneven passages that feel more prosaic than poetic. Even dismaying in its conclusion, the auteur crafts it with sufficient élan to deserve a favorable mention.