Ca­ress­ing with­out a per­mit

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Jonathan Richards For The New Mex­i­can

IMade­moi­selle Chambon, ro­man­tic drama, not rated, in French with sub­ti­tles, The Screen, 3 chiles In the open­ing scene of Stéphane Brizé’s beau­ti­fully mod­u­lated ro­man­tic drama, the mod­estly ed­u­cated Jean (Vin­cent Lin­don) and his wife, Anne-Marie (Aure Atika), strug­gle to help their lit­tle boy Jérémy (Arthur Le Houérou) with his home­work. At is­sue is the con­cept of the tran­si­tive verb. A tran­si­tive verb, as they fi­nally con­clude, is a verb that takes an ob­ject.

Love is a tran­si­tive verb. And the ob­ject soon ap­pears in the form of Véronique Chambon (San­drine Kiber­lain), Jérémy’s teacher. When Anne-Marie hurts her back at her job, Jean must pick up their son at school. He meets Miss Chambon, a tall, thin blonde with the jerky, wary alert­ness of a wild bird.

She tells him she is ask­ing par­ents to come in and talk to the chil­dren about their jobs. Jean is a con­struc­tion worker. Re­luc­tantly, he agrees. He’s ner­vous and self-con­scious at first, but as he goes on, his con­fi­dence grows. “When we ar­rive, there’s noth­ing there,” he tells the kids. “A few months later, there’s a house.”

It doesn’t take that long to lay the foun­da­tion for ro­mance. Back at her apart­ment, Véronique has a drafty win­dow. She asks Jean whom she should call for the re­pairs, and he of­fers to have a look at it. He tells her the win­dow needs re­plac­ing and of­fers to do the job. As he fin­ishes, he notices a framed photo of Véronique as a con­cert vi­o­lin­ist, and he asks her to play for him. She is shy. “It’s been so long since I’ve played in front of any­one,” she says. “Turn your back,” he sug­gests. And she does.

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