WOMAN BETWEEN WOLF AND DOG (aka: WOMAN IN A TWILIGHT GARDEN) (EEN VROUW TUSSEN HOND EN WOLF)
(director/writer: Andre Delvaux; screenwriter: Ivo Michels; cinematographer: Charles Van Damme; editor: Pierre Gillette; music: Etienne Verschueren; cast: Senne Rouffaer (Priest), Raf Reyman (Oom Georges), Bert André (Slager), Rutger Hauer (Adriaan), Roger Van Hool (François), Marie-Christine Barrault (Lieve), Mathieu Carrière (Soldaat uit Duitsland), Tine Balder (Tante Mélanie), Yves Robert (Werkman), Hector Camerlynck (Uncle Odilon); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; Cinematek-PAL format; 1979-France/Belgium-in Dutch with English subtitles)
“Though well-crafted and acted, there’s a disconnecting flatness and a lack of subtlety that kept me from being more drawn to its pacifist sentiments.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The most political of the great Belgian filmmaker Andre Delvaux’ (“Benvenuta”/”Belle”/”Appointment in Bray”) films. Though well-crafted and acted, there’s a disconnecting flatness and a lack of subtlety that kept me from being more drawn to its pacifist sentiments. It’s co-written by Delvaux and Ivo Michels. It’s set in Antwerp, 1940, and the language spoken is Dutch.
The apolitical nurse Lieve (Marie-Christine Barrault) marries Adriaan (Rutger Hauer), a gung-ho Flemish nationalist, who fights on the Eastern Front for the Germans during World War II when neutral Belgium became occupied by the Nazis. In 1942 Lieve shelters in her cellar one of the French leaders of the Belgium Resistance, François (Roger Van Hool), and soon has an affair with him. After the liberation her hubby is imprisoned for treason and she turns to Francois to get him free. Lieve eventually chooses her hubby, who is released from prison. But when hubby is still in denial about the Holocaust, Lieve, in 1950, splits with her son and the increasingly crazed Adriaan is left alone to deal with his inner demons.
Delvaux asks questions over such things as loyalty and betrayal, and keenly observes the hypocrisy ingrained in the mediocre wartime society of Antwerp. Lieve acts as the director’s alter ego, someone trying to embrace both the French and Flemish cultures but with little success. The pic shows that both cultures are fractured with their jingoistic attitudes and hatred for each other. Nothing earth-shattering turns up, as the pic frames its scenes in the changing seasons of the lush family garden and depicts, for Delvaux, the usual inability of both the French and Flemish cultures to connect.
REVIEWED ON 7/2/2013 GRADE: B