Monsieur Contre Madame

Claudine Bories.

France1999, 92mins.

They never talk to each other. Most of the time they sit in separate rooms. If they are in the same room, they seldom look at each other. They prefer not to. If they talk to each other it is more like an argument. It was not always like that. They used to be married but something went wrong. Now they are divorced. Their children run from one room to the other. They had to go to court to settle how the children can see the parent with whom they are not living. The authorities have decided that the place could be Aadef Médiation, an institution on neutral ground where couples can meet with the help of social workers.

Of course we are aware of them, but we seldom get such a strong (and sad) demonstration of the fantastic results our modern civilisation has achieved! This fly-on-the-wall style documentation is shot in France, but could be from any society that believes problems can be and should be solved by the authorities. The film’s strength is that it catches all the small details which, put together, give you a broader picture of a problem. The film crew has obviously spent a long time at the institution and has succeeded in pointing out some interesting characters to which we return again and again. But it is not a film about individuals, it is about a system: we don’t get to know what the parents are doing when they leave the Centre.

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