Taglines: If life is a trap, love is the escape.
At the age of 20, Martin leaves his home town and comes to Paris, where he fortunately becomes a model by chance. He meets Alice, his brother’s friend, and falls in love with her. They start a passionate relationship, although Martin remains very mysterious about his past and the reasons why he left his family. But when Alice tells him she’s pregnant, he is suddenly almost driven to madness, as his past comes back to his mind. Alice will now do anything she can to help him.
Alice et Martin (US title: Alice and Martin) is a 1998 French film, a psychological drama, directed by André Téchiné. It stars Juliette Binoche and Alexis Loret. It is Téchiné’s second collaboration with Binoche after the 1985 film Rendez-vous.
The script was written by André Téchiné and his frequent scriptwriting partner Gilles Taurand with the help of Olivier Assayas. Filming took place on location in France (Paris and the southwest Cahors region and Duravel in the Lot valley) and Spain (Granada), where Martin’s climactic breakdown occurs.
Alice et Martin had its world premiere at the 1998 Valladolid International Film Festival in the presence of André Téchiné, Juliette Binoche and Alain Sarde. The version screened ran at 114 mins, 10 mins shorter than the version that was released theatrically. The film premiered in France on November 4, 1998.
About the Story
At age ten, Martin is living in Cahors with Jeanine, his hairdresser mother and her taxi-driver lover, Said. Martin is the illegitimate child of a successful business man, Victor Sauvagnac. Against the child’s wishes his mother sends Martin to live with his father, who until then he does not know. Victor is married and has three sons older than Martin. The move is not a happy one and quickly Martin finds himself in conflict with his brash, cold father.
Ten years later, just after his twentieth birthday, Martin flees his home following his father’s death. He disappears wandering across the country side and tries unsuccessfully to drown himself. Martin emerges weeks later at his half-brother Benjamin’s apartment in Paris. Benjamin is a struggling actor sharing living arrangements with his best friend Alice, a violinist in a local quintet that specializes in tango music.
More outgoing that his younger brother, Benjamin, who is gay, has a close platonic relationship with Alice. Martin finds success quickly–within weeks he is a highly sought-after model. Alice is nervous and brittle, harboring her own private grief, the tragic death at age eleven of her gifted sister. At first Alice resents Martin’s presence in the apartment and she is cold towards him. Though Alice does not like the brooding Martin much, he becomes obsessed with her and starts surreptitiously following her. Alice discovers it and confronts him. She is gradually captivated by his attentions, and the two begin a passionate love affair.
Leaving Benjamin behind, Alice accompanies Martin to Granada, Spain, on a modeling shoot. Their happiness is brief. During the trip Martin’s behavior becomes erratic and he becomes more and more self-obsessed. When Alice reveals she is pregnant, his decline continues. Martin suffers a nervous breakdown and falls into coma. The doctors determine that his condition is psychosomatic. In an effort to restore his health, Alice rents a cabin by the sea in Spain’s south coast. Martin swims for hours each night, but remains withdrawn. He is haunted by his father’s death.
A flash back recounts the period preceding Victor Sauvagnac’s death. His relationship with his sons was problematic: the aimless and withdrawn Martin failed to please him; Benjamin irritated him and a reunion about the prospects of the family’s business ended up in a fist fight between Francois and Frédéric, the two eldest siblings. Martin celebrates his 20th birthday with Benjamin, who comes from Paris for the occasion.
Their reunion is interrupted by a phone call from Francois who commits suicide hanging himself in the family’s factory. When Martin decides to leave for Paris an argument erupts and Martin pushes his father downs the stairs killing him. Unable to deal with what he has just done, Martin runs away.
Alice and Martin (1998)
Directed by: André Téchiné
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Alexis Loret, Mathieu Amalric, Carmen Maura, Jean-Pierre Lorit, Marthe Villalonga, Roschdy Zem, Eric Kreikenmayer, Véronique Rioux
Screenplay by: André Téchiné, Olivier Assayas, Gilles Taurand
Production Design by: Zé Branco
Cinematography by: Caroline Champetier
Film Editing by: Martine Giordano
Costume Design by: Elisabeth Tavernier
Music by: Philippe Sarde
MPAA Rating: R for a scene of sexuality and language.
Distributed by: Studio Canal, October Films
Release Date: October 23, 1998 (Spain), November 4, 1998 (France), August 30, 2000 (United States)