[Cinéma] The Story of My Wife: Love Between Two Waters

Hungarian director Ildiko Enyedi adapted a literary classic from his country to tell the story of love that unites and divides a couple. An old film about mystery and the perfect feelings.

With four films selected at the Cannes Film Festival, Léa Seydoux is one of the most anticipated actresses on the red carpet in May. But now, tested positive for covid-19, he has to stop the big ramdan on the 7th.e art, leaving big man Gijs Naber alone. The latter, during the presentation of The Story of My Wife, then in the official competition, did not betray his feelings: “I miss him a lot”, he released with a sad smile, specifying that this film is a “personal journey with him”. Apparently, for his first major appearance in the cinema, the Dutch actor remains, even away from the big screen, close to his character: weak and a little lost.

Seeking to explain the mystery and the perfect feelings

Golden Camera in Cannes for My XXe century (1989), the filmmaker Ildiko Enyedi, by adapting a classic of Hungarian literature by Milan Füst (1942), returns to his obsession: seeks to explain the mystery and the perfect feelings, as happened in Body and soul (2017), Golden Bear in Berlin. Then he gave his version of the meaning of existence: “You have to take risks if you want to live!”. Again, he applied this philosophy, which he experienced, he specified on the Croisette. “I have been married for 32 years. With my husband, we promised to live together from the first night, but we had to learn a lot about each other.

You have to take risks if you want to survive!

This is what a sea dog, Jakob, will discover, a young captain who is comfortable in the waves, but is confused when the mainland is near. The director wants to explain: “He believes in clear rules that govern society, he controls his life.” Despite everything, he lacked a little something, which showed itself by feeling that there was a stone stuck in his stomach.

“Sailor’s disease”, assures the cook-confidant, who advises him to relieve himself by finding a companion. The strong navigator then made a bet with a friend that he would marry the first woman who crossed the door of the cafe where the two men were drinking. This is Lizzy (Léa Seydoux), an “intelligent and mysterious” woman in the world, explains Ildiko Enyedi.

“This film is a long journey to understand the world.”

Here, two worlds collide, further complicating the power relationship between the two sexes. But in the discourse of “female” and “male” perspective, the director wanted to be more subtle and less dogmatic. A matter of feeling, he says. He gives an example: “On the boat, there is the sound of water, wind, wood, metal… When on land, there is noise, the activity of the city, the chat… New impressions for Jakob, who has to deal with this!”. Gijs Naber confirmed: “When he played this little game of love, his world collapsed! But he is willing to fight to change, to face his demons. He is positively stubborn!” He released, in fact: “This film is a long journey to understand the world.”

Built in seven chapters, balanced between Paris and Hamburg, The Story of My Wife is a labyrinthine development of unity between beings, love, couples, the difference between men and women… The captain, as if immersed in invisible waves, confessed as follows : “Why can’t I put my miserable life in order?

A film worthy of its details

It talks about fatigue and love, unity and detachment, loyalty and manipulation. Because of their missing dates, their betrayals (including Louis Garrel), their deceptions and their jealousies, the couple tries to get their heads above water. However, it is beneath the surface that this film has diversity.

In fact, despite the undeniable aesthetic care and a serious approach – especially the successful reconstruction of Mitteleuropa in the 1920s -, The Story of My Wife especially for its details: a word, a gesture, a silence… A bit “as if we exaggerate the truth of things”, explains the director who, in doing so, spreads his film in almost three time. A choice that makes it easier to capture the passage of time and life.

And if for him, the “learning process is painful”, it is better to appreciate the complexity of loving love. “It’s a celebration of love!”, said the actor, before choking his melancholic gaze on the empty seat next to him.

The Story of My Wife, by Ildiko Enyedi.

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