Picks and Pans Review: Entre Nous

updated 02/27/1984 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/27/1984 01:00AM

Diane Kurys is a first-class scavenger. For her warm and perceptive character studies, the French director-screenwriter usually ransacks her own history and experience. Entre Nous is her third such enterprise, and this time Kurys has turned her observant eye on her parents. In the city of Lyons in 1952, Lena (Isabelle Huppert) thrives as the pretty, bourgeois wife of a garage owner (Guy Marchand) and the mother of two young daughters. At the school recital of one daughter, she meets Madeline (Miou-Miou), a sophisticated sculptor who lost her first husband in World War II and has misguidedly married a fledgling actor with big career plans and little else. As these two women share a succession of everyday dramas and domestic obligations, they seal a friendship that soils their marriages. Madeline forsakes her husband and son, while Lena awakens to both the sexual and career possibilities that await women of her caliber. Like her compatriot Fran├žois Truffaut, Kurys has a gift for clear-eyed compassion; she colors even the blackest event or character with shades of gray. Although Entre Nous is a celebration of the emotional and sexual bonds between women, Kurys doesn't indiscriminately indict her male characters. She acknowledges the crimes of the heart that are committed in the name of emotional emancipation. As the heroines, Huppert and Miou-Miou exhibit vibrancy and range that neither has previously displayed. But as exceptional as the actors are, this film is primarily Kurys' triumph. She is masterly at turning an accumulation of small details into a haunting tableau. That talent transforms Entre Nous into a pointed and poignant remembrance of things past. (In French, with English subtitles) (PG)

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