Deux (1989)
A film directed by Claude Zidi

Genre: Drama / Romance

Review published:


Deux photo
Marc Lambert is a composer of contemporary music who makes a comfortable living organising concerts and promoting the work of up-and-coming composers. He is keen to buy a house in Paris so he enlists the help of estate agent Hélène Müller. As they view properties together, Marc and Hélène discover they are attracted to one another, although both are reluctant to show their true feelings. Finally, Marc discovers his ideal homestead, a large house in Montmartre which previously belonged to one of his musician acquaintances. This is the point at which Marc and Hélène realise they are made for one another, and without delay they embark on a passionate love affair. But when they begin to think about getting married, they both start to have second thoughts...
© 2012

Film Review

Director Claude Zidi is best known for his mainstream comedies - shameless audience-grabbers such as Astérix et Obélix contre César (1999) and L'Aile ou la Cuisse (1976), and more sophisticated rib-ticklers like Les Ripoux (1984) and Ripoux contre ripoux (1990). With most of his films attracting audiences in excess of two million spectators, Zidi is one of France's most commercially successful filmmakers, and no one could ever mistake him for a great auteur. It is regrettable that his one attempt at a serious drama, Deux, was ill-received both by the critics and the cinema-going public; it was in fact his second biggest flop (after the truly abysmal La Boîte, 2001). On its first release in 1989, it attracted an audience of 0.3 million, an incredibly bad result given that its lead actor, Gérard Depardieu, was at the height of his popularity. The failure of this film, Zidi's most adult work, doubtless convinced the director that he should stick to what he knew best, populist comedy for the masses.

Deux may not be Claude Zidi's best film but it is certainly not his worst. It is a film that is, in some respects, ahead of its time, exploring with brutal honesty the conflict between the dictates of the human heart and the modern day practicalities of settling down and starting a life with someone. Rigorously unsentimental, Deux is a modern romantic drama which is perhaps easier to engage with today than when it was made. Zidi directs the film with far more panache and restraint than he exhibits in his boisterous comedies, and there is little to fault in the performances of its two lead actors, Gérard Depardieu and Maruschka Detmers (a Dutch actress made famous by her appearance in Jean-Luc Godard's Prénom Carmen).

The only area in which Deux falls down is its screenwriting, which lacks the depth and finesse that the film badly needs to avoid slipping into caricature. Most of the weaknesses in the script are well-concealed by Zidi's focussed and expressive direction, and by the well-judged performances from Depardieu and Detmers. The two actors bring genuine feeling and sensitivity to their portrayals of two independently minded people who fall in love but tragically cannot commit to their relationship. Unfortunately, the bigger plot contrivances are harder to sweep under the carpet. When the film hurls its Deus ex machina at us in its final reel, it does so with as much subtlety as a herd of elephants suddenly bursting onto the set. A dramatic plot twist of this kind might have been acceptable in a 1950s melodrama, but here it just feels unnecessarily gratuitous and renders what follows slightly absurd. With a little more restraint and focus, Deux could easily have been Claude Zidi's finest film, rather than merely an overlooked footnote in his career.
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Film Credits

  • Director: Claude Zidi
  • Script: Catherine Rihoit, Charles Trieschmann, Claude Zidi
  • Photo: Jean-Jacques Tarbès
  • Music: Jean-Claude Petit
  • Cast: Gérard Depardieu (Marc Lambert), Maruschka Detmers (Hélène Müller), Michelle Goddet (Juliette), Philippe Leroy (M. Muller), Beata Tyszkiewicz (Mme Muller), François Cluzet (Louis), Wojciech Pszoniak (Walkowicz), Ronald Guttman (Laurent), Gérard Beaume (Le policier), Madeleine Cheminat (La femme âgée), Odile Cointepas (Suzanne Staedler), Thierry Der'ven (Le maître d'hôtel), Michael Goldman (L'Américain), Paulene Myers (Nina Walkowicz), Sophie Mounicot (Anne), Jean Obé (Le peintre), Jean Reney (Le notaire), Guillaume de Tonquedec (Olivier Muller), Paul Vally (L'homme âgé), Catherine Alcover, Jonathan Bagault, Marc Betton, Jacques Chayrousse, Marc Chouppart, Francis Coffinet
  • Country: France
  • Language: French
  • Support: Color
  • Runtime: 90 min

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