Caressing without a permit
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.