Released: 1992
Directed by: Claude Sautet
French with English subtitles
Daniel Auteuil: Stephane
Emmanuelle Béart: Camille
André Dussollier: Maxime

      Poster for the French movie UN COEUR EN HIVER

Review by Jurgen Fauth, WorldFilm.About.com

Emmanuelle Béart plays Ravel, but is that enough to melt a frozen heart?

As the title implies, Un Coeur en Hiver (A Heart in Winter) is not exactly a heart-warming affair. But it’s a wise and touching movie about love, and that’s about as rare as cherry blossoms in January.

Stephane (Daniel Auteuil) is a violin builder who works with his friend, and boss, Maxime (André Dussollier). He is a genius at repairing bruised fiddles, and performers come from near and far to have him look at their instruments. When Maxime falls for a stunningly beautiful violinist (Emmanuelle Béart), there is trouble ahead. The triangle starts out traditionally enough.

The drama, and the particularly French twist of this love story, results from the basic natures of Stephane and Maxime. While Maxime is the smooth, suave front man for the business, Stephane (who looks a little bit like a grumpy, french Robert DeNiro) is a recluse. He is the type of man who keeps to himself, who is too critical to live fearlessly, who understands more about his craft than about the mysteries of relationships and emotions. The cold heart of the title, of course, is his.

Like many French movies, Un Coeur en Hiver is almost all talk. The artist, her agent, the violin builder, and his boss meet in ever changing permutations and talk, talk, talk. Every now and then, they run through the rain or listen to Camille play Ravel.

This movie drew me in slowly but steadily. I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll say that the end is not what you would expect from an American love story, and it is all the more powerful for it’s mature honesty. This is not a film you walk out of thinking how everything is always so much easier in the movies. And if all the talk loses you from time to time (which, I promise, it won’t)—you’ll be spellbound by Emmanuelle Béart’s transcendent beauty.