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Spotlight On André Téchiné

Loin (Canal+/Photofest)

Actors who appear in films directed by André Téchiné better be at the top of their game, because sooner or later, Téchiné, who’s an absolute master of the close-up, will move his camera in tight, and when he does, that actor’s face must be carrying nothing less than the life history of his — or her — character. Few achieve this with the precision of Catherine Deneuve, who’s starred in five Téchiné films, the first of which, Hôtel des Amériques (1981), opens during this two-day, three-film salute to the director. Deneuve plays Hélène, a tightly wound doctor having an affair with a hotel clerk (Patrick Dewaere) who’s almost insanely insecure about Hélène’s love for him. We’re doubtful too, until we see her exit a train and search, with hesitancy and hope in her eyes, for her lover. On the same bill is Ma Saison Préférée (My Favorite Season), the 1993 film that preceded Téchiné’s beloved hit, Les Roseaux Sauvages (Wild Reeds). Both are great films, but Ma Saison Préférée, which explores the constant push and pull between a sister and brother (Deneuve and Daniel Auteuil), is so complex, so wonderfully adult in sensibility, that watching it again sent this reviewer into a state of bliss. Equally dense, but far darker, is the 2001 film, Loin (Distant), which is getting an overdue L.A. premiere. Filmed in Tangiers, Loin tracks the fortunes of a French truck driver (Stéphane Rideau) and his impoverished Moroccan friends, one of whom is desperate to be smuggled into Spain. While thrillerlike elements aren’t Téchiné’s strong suit, his ever-roaming eye seeks and finds, in dusty, desolate North Africa, a bounty of troubled, haunted faces. LACMA Bing Theater; Fri.-Sat., Sept. 8-9. (323) 857-6010 or www.lacma.org.

—Chuck Wilson


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