Plainly, if only partially, Claude Lelouch's title echoes that of his 1974 And Now My Love. The film as a whole echoes the other more faintly: two destined lovers on distant paths, a debonair British jewel thief and a soulful French cabaret singer, each as gaunt and haunted as the other, each afflicted with a malady of the brain, crossing paths at last in Fez, Morocco, where one will seek the remedy of modern medicine while the other will go for a miracle cure at the desert tomb of Lalla Chafia, dead this century and a half. It would be possible and even reasonable to stress the positive. The wholeheartedness of the romanticism. The tasteful chasteness with regard to the carnal aspects of amour. The connoisseurship of the workings of fate and chance. The rich, resplendent, yet never gaudy palette, an asset underscored by the occasional fade to black-and-white, as if turning down the color knob on an antique TV. The glamour of the far-flung locales. The wind-whipped excitement of the yacht at sea, a nice break from such vehicles of choice as the racing car, the motorcycle, the plane, the snow skis. The quotability of the script: "Doctors are for illnesses that go away on their own," or, if only as a cornerstone credo of the filmmaker, "I've always favored robbers over cops." The matchless atmosphere of comfort for the actors, so much so that Jeremy Irons can be rescued from stereotypical Brit villainy and restored to the human race, and so much so that you'd never guess that chanteuse Patricia Kaas had never acted before. The attentive, appreciative, individualizing eye for the ladies, of vastly differing types, such that the nominal star does not outshine her black singing partner, the ex-girlfriend, the jewelry-store clerks, the hotel maid, the prizefighter's wife, etc., etc. (Not even Lelouch's tender gaze, alas, can conceal the unkindness of time and/or cosmetic surgery to the legendary Claudia Cardinale.) But all of this is simply to list some of the established Lelouchian virtues. And all Lelouch films are not equal. Often cavalier about the details within his grand designs, he has never been more so than in the transparent disguises and ruses of the heist schemes here. And the incessant chansons of the leading lady, rife with references to Lelouch's past, amount almost to a Chinese torture. (2003) — Duncan Shepherd
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