The Last Days of Chez Nous
Last Days of Chez Nous, The (Gillian Armstrong, 1992) wr. Helen Garner; Lisa Harrow, Bruno Ganz, Kerry Fox, Miranda Otto, Kiri Paramore, Bill Hunter, Lex Marinos; 93 min.
Two sisters, but only one Frenchman - not to mention a father and a daughter - and my favourite 'tourism' scene.
The plot line isn’t very original, but the femme characters are observed and played with notable depth. Variety, 31 December 1996.
I like movies like this because I get to meet people whom it would be entertaining to know - at a certain distance. I can imagine sitting in their kitchen, watching them prepare dinner, and knowing that at least some of the drama surrounding that process was being created just for my entertainment. You see people like this and you know they will go down in flames, but always in the kind of accident where there are miraculous survivals. Roger Ebert, 16 April 1993.
Armstrong, who directed "My Brilliant Career," and screenwriter Helen Garner have created an offbeat mosaic of elusive emotions and feelings, with few lapses in heavyhandedness. It's augmented memorably by Paul Grabowsky's score, which shifts beautifully between whimsical and haunting. If you go to this hungry for seriocomic observations about the divides between people, you will see the movie's great qualities. Desson Howe, Washington Post, 2 April 1993.
Chez Nous brims over with humor and heart-break, but don't expect any histrionics. This is a family that learns to live with the consequences of breaking the ties that bind. Armstrong, a gifted director in top form, draws inspired performances in a keenly observant film about the dynamics of relationships. Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, 26 February 1993.
It was both an incredible privilege and a little frightening to have The Last Days of Chez Nous selected by the NFSA for a new preservation print to be made and to be kept for posterity. A little frightening because to think so much time, twenty years, has already raced by and a little frightening to see whether the film now felt like history or if it had stood the test of time. But seeing the film again reminded me of how wonderful Helen Garner's script was and how acute, both sad and funny, her observations of people and relationships was and still is. It has definitely stood the test of time. Gillian Armstrong, NFSA Media Release, 29 July 2010 [no longer available online].
Garry Gillard | New: 23 October, 2012 | Now: 7 May, 2018