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The Lovers on the Bridge (1991)

Les amants du Pont-Neuf (original title)
R | | Drama, Romance | 2 July 1999 (USA)
Alex, who's homeless and addicted to alcohol, and Michèle, who's losing her sight, form a relationship while sleeping rough on Paris's Pont-Neuf bridge.

Director:

Leos Carax

Writer:

Leos Carax
Reviews
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Juliette Binoche ... Michèle Stalens
Denis Lavant ... Alex
Klaus-Michael Grüber Klaus-Michael Grüber ... Hans
Marion Stalens Marion Stalens ... Marion
Chrichan Larsson Chrichan Larsson ... Julien (as Chrichan Larson)
Paulette Berthonnier Paulette Berthonnier ... La marinière / Barge operator
Roger Berthonnier Roger Berthonnier ... Le marinier / Barge operator
Edith Scob ... La femme en voiture
Georges Aperghis Georges Aperghis ... L'homme en voiture
Michel Vandestien Michel Vandestien ... Le pompier
Georges Castorp Georges Castorp ... Un endormi
Marc Desclozeaux Marc Desclozeaux ... Un endormi
Alain Dahan Alain Dahan ... Un endormi
Pierre Pessemesse Pierre Pessemesse ... Un endormi
Maître Bitoun Maître Bitoun ... Un endormi
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Storyline

Set against Paris' oldest bridge, the Pont Neuf, while it was closed for repairs, this film is a love story between two young vagrants: Alex, a would be circus performer addicted to alcohol and sedatives and Michele, a painter driven to a life on the streets because of a failed relationship and an affliction which is slowly turning her blind. The film portrays the harsh existence of the homeless as Alex, Michele and Hans, an older vagrant survive on the streets with their wits. As they both slowly get their lives back together, Michele becomes increasingly dependent on Alex as her vision deteriorates further. Fearing that Michele will leave him if she receives a new medical treatment Alex attempts to keep Michele practically a prisoner. The streets, skies and waterways of Paris are used as a backdrop to the story in a series of stunning visuals which dominate the film. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Romance... In a most unlikely place.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language, sexuality/nudity and substance abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

2 July 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Lovers on the Bridge See more »

Filming Locations:

France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$28,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,482, 4 July 1999

Gross USA:

$29,679

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$29,679
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Leos Carax was originally given permission to use the real Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris and have it closed for filming but delays in filming meant the permission expired and he had to reconstruct the whole thing on a lake near Montpellier, France. The construction of a new version of the Pont-Neuf - and its surrounding buildings in Paris - helped make the film of the most expensive French films ever made. See more »

Quotes

Michèle Stalens: My dreams sent me. People in dreams, ought to call them when you wake. Make life simpler. "Hello, dreamed of you. Love woke me".
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the last end title, during a fraction of a second, there is a handwritten inscription "à Luje - Amour - A." (To Luje - Love - A.) A. stands for Alexandre (Leos Carax' real first name) and Luje for Juliette (Binoche). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Malcolm in the Middle: Dinner Out (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Cantus In Memory of Benjamin Britten
written by Arvo Pärt
performed by Staatsorchester Stuttgart
conducted by Dennis Russell Davies
See more »

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User Reviews

A magnificent failure
22 March 2000 | by JMartin-2See all my reviews

Oddly enough, "Les Amants du Pont-Neuf" reminded me of Francis Ford Coppola's own romantic extravaganza, "One From the Heart." Think about it: both were directed by cinematic wunderkinds; both went way over budget and had troubled productions; and both were, at their hearts, rather simple love stories that their directors inflated, rather perversely, into massive technical undertakings.

On that level, at least, "Les Amants..." works. The movie is filled with striking images -- the fireworks display as seen from Pont-Neuf, the flaming posters lining the walls of the Metro, and so on. It is not at all inaccurate to call this one of the most stunningly photographed films of all time.

But whereas the movie succeeds as a grand visual spectacle, it disappoints just about everywhere else. The relationship between Alex (Denis Levant) and Michele (Juliette Binoche, who manages to be as radiant as ever in spite of her role as a fairly grungy homeless painter) occasionally results in some moments of pure emotional power, which are promptly deflated with one of Alex's bizarre, unexplained transformations into a possessive, selfish, nearly sociopathic jerk. (His dreadfully unconvincing hyena-laugh doesn't help much.) Since the romance between these two characters is the crux of the film, this inconsistency mortally wounds the film. Maybe Carax was trying to convey a sense of the "amour fou" French romances are famous for; if so, he failed.

Even worse, though, are the myriad subplots that Carax introduces but doesn't do anything with. The old man (Klaus-Michael Gruber) with whom Alex hangs around with serves no purpose other than to give Michele the key to an art museum, yet he has the film's only significant supporting role. And it becomes clear later in the film that Michele (who is rapidly losing her sight) is, in fact, on the run from her past, but we learn next to nothing of it -- who, exactly, is "Marion"? Why does Michele (apparently) shoot her ex-boyfriend, Julien? These aren't just anal-retentive questions -- these are major plot points that would have helped tremendously in developing Michele. But Carax doesn't care; he was either in too much of a hurry to get the script done (not at all unlikely -- see the "Trivia" section), or didn't regard the story as anything more than a clothesline to hang his visuals on.

There are two other major irritations. First is the way the plot falls back on the "miracle-working ophthalmologist." You know that device: that's the one were the hero/heroine is/is going blind but can have his/her sight saved by visiting some lone eye surgeon who has developed a miraculous cure for their affliction. Not only does this trivialize Michele's torment, but it also robs the film of what could have been an even more poignant ending -- surely I'm not the only one who thinks the portrait-painting scene would've been more touching if Michele had done it blindly.

That brings me to the second sore spot: the ending. Michele ominously tells Alex she has to leave; Alex flies into a rage and pushes her into the Seine, following her in. When they rise to the surface, though, Michele is laughing as though Alex's little tantrum had never happened, as though she doesn't care that he would rather see her drown than risk losing her. (We're never told, by the way, why Michele had to leave.) They then board a garbage barge together, and the film suddenly turns into an homage to Vigo's "L'Atlante" that is so blatant that the only way it could've been more obvious was if Vigo had received co-directing credit. Since nothing else in the film suggests "L'Atlante," this unexpected reference comes across as just more evidence of sloppy writing, that Carax couldn't be bothered to think of a decent ending and just threw together the unsatisfying (but beautifully shot -- go figure) climax we're stuck with.

Don't get me wrong -- this is NOT a bad film. But it IS a tremendous disappointment, even for me, who has never exactly been a fan of Carax's work. Foreign film buffs should still see it -- maybe you'll have better luck focusing on the sights and sounds and blocking out the meandering screenplay.


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