If You Don’t, I Will

| April 6, 2015

The newest film by acclaimed director Sophie Fillières and the latest observation on modern relationships starring frequent collaborators Mathieu Amalric (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Emmanuelle Devos (Coco Before Chanel) sets Pomme (Devos) and Pierre (Amalric) against each other, even though they are a long-term couple and are desperately trying to be with one another. Although they have been together for a while, the passion and spontaneity have given way to predictability and cold shoulders. But there’s a lingering optimism, a hope they can return to the couple they used to be, attending chic art openings and sharing a laugh like young lovers.

But this doesn’t seem to be enough, as in If You Don’t, I Will they awkwardly communicate with one another but don’t seem to understand one another, at all. Pomme suspects that Pierre is cheating with a woman who son attends school not far from the couple’s apartment. She is even so jealous that one night when they are at an art show, she persuades him to not use the washroom, because a beautiful woman has just gone in. I don’t know who is to blame in this weird exhibit of togetherness. Meanwhile, on a hike together one afternoon, Pomme declares her independence by deciding to stay in the woods rather than return to an underwhelming life with Pierre. Pierre tries to get back to normal, despite his worry over her whereabouts and the indelible sense that he’s missing his better half.

Meanwhile, Pomme begins an extended meditation in the forest on where her own life should go next, with our without Pierre. Pomme makes it in the forest on her own for a few days. Her adult son is concerned about her, but initially Pierre isn’t forthcoming about just what has transpired. There is even more cause for her son’s concern because Pomme has recently battled a cancer scare and has been off work for a bit. Pierre is befuddled because she refused to return with him. However, during the course of what may have been a week, Pomme actually hitches a ride to a local bed and breakfast in order to regroup, get cleaned up, but she just goes back into the forest. Eventually, Pierre goes to look for her and it is hopeful that they will cross paths, but that isn’t the case.

Eventually, she returns home, after visiting her son and a mutual friend. She never tries to grab a cell phone to connect with Pierre, which seemed odd to me at first. But as you pull back the layers, she is so frustrated with feeling that Pierre doesn’t love her or even notice her. They bicker in that way that “old-time” couples do, and it seems to just suit them fine. So, I am sure that Pierre is greatly shocked when she is adamant about “roughing” it in the forest in the first place.

They are still guarded when she returns home, as if neither had learned much from the estrangement. In the end, both are left to contemplate the strength and meaning of each other’s commitment, while making a decision to continue the madness.

Released theatrically in New York City and other select markets last December, the film premiered to critical and audience acclaim. This is a great film; and I don’t know why I enjoy movies about couples who are experiencing strain in their relationships. But I connected with this film in that same awkward way that Pomme and Pierre connected with one another. If You Don’t, I Will is available to own on DVD on April 7 by the great distribution company Film Movement. For more information, visit http://www.filmmovement.com/filmcatalog/index.asp?MerchandiseID=390

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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