Judge Jason Panella has been trying to get that pizza off of his roof for two autumns and three winters.
"Our story wasn't much of a fairy tale anymore. We weren't kids."
While on a jog, 30-something Arman (Vincent Macaigne) bumps into Amélie (Maud Wyler, Blue is the Warmest Color). Arman is instantly smitten and, thanks to some ridiculous turns of fate, the meet-cute eventually turns into a relationship between the two Parisians. Over (get ready) two autumns and three winters, Arman and Amélie experience the ups and downs of love.
2 Autumns, 3 Winters (French title: 2 automnes 3 hivers) is the first feature film from French director Sébastien Betbeder. The screenplay, written by Betbeder, is something of an old hat—two people adrift in life learn about matters of the heart. It won't be hard for viewers to anticipate plot beats well in advance. Still, the script is enjoyable, and Wyler and Macaigne give their characters a natural likability. The cast comes off like real people, and give the screenplay a lived-in element that works nicely.
What makes 2 Autumns, 3 Winters unique is how easily Betbeder bends romantic comedy conventions to tell his story. Even though the movie is heavily indebted to the mumblecore genre, it quickly breaks free to follow whatever whimsy Betbeder deems worthy. For instance, characters regularly break the fourth wall as they directly address the viewer. In doing so, the characters often veer down completely unrelated narrative avenues. I loved this; it was almost like the characters were telling me their story over a cup of coffee, weird tangents and all. Betbeder brings in other elements as needed, from completely unrelated genres. One scene feels like it's pulled from a crime thriller, another from a Hallmark Christmas special, and another from a David Lynch movie. Mashed together, this might feel disjointed, but since the film unfolds in a long series of chapters separated by title cards it works surprisingly well.
Film Movement's release of 2 Autumns, 3 Winters features a standard def 1.33:1 full frame transfer. Switching between digital and 16mm film frequently, the quality of the visual presentation is never consistent. Betbeder has a good eye for visuals, though, so he gets some lovely soft-hued shots throughout the film. The French Dolby 2.0 Stereo track is fine for a dialogue-heavy film. So while nothing is glaringly bad, nothing stands out either. Extras include the film's trailer, bios of Macaigne and Betbeder, and Sean Ellis's short film Voyage D'Affaires (10:58).
2 Autumns, 3 Winters might sound like a mess—and really, many people will grow tired of it quickly—but is playful enough that it never becomes too pretentious. A feature debut that's thoughtful, funny, and has enough spunk to overcome most of the rough patches.
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