Toute une vie (1974)

aka A Lifetime, And Now My Love
Article 4029 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-11-2012
Directed by Claude Lelouch
Featuring Marthe Keller, Andre Dussollier, Charles Denner
Country: France / Italy
What it is: Love story

A boy and a girl meet.

This movie entered my list under the title A LIFETIME, which is listed in John Stanley’s CREATURE FEATURE MOVIE GUIDE STRIKES AGAIN. Unfortunately, the only info they give about it refers the reader to the first edition of the book, which I possessed at one point but not any more. Since no search on the title on IMDB would yield any help, the movie limped along on my hunt list until it dropped into my “ones that got away” list, where a fellow member of CHFB (who had a first edition of the book) was able to research the title and point me in the direction of this movie. I’m really glad to have finally found out about the movie, and was able to net a copy, albeit one without English subtitles.

Fortunately, the lack of subtitles didn’t make the movie a total loss for me; the movie is always visually interesting, and I found the central conceit of it fascinating. It’s a love story that spans three generations and nearly a century of time, and it ends where most love stories begin – with the lovers meeting. As tempting as it is to call that a spoiler, I actually think this is one of those movies that is made more interesting by knowing where it’s going to, especially near the end when we see the two people who we’ve spent so much time with getting closer and closer in space and time. Nevertheless, the first part of the movie, which emulates silents and relies on visuals, is probably the most satisfying part for someone who doesn’t understand the language.

Still, the central conceit itself isn’t enough to qualify this movie as belonging to the fantastic genres, and therein lies the most problematic thing about this movie. When it was first released in the US, it ran a hair over two hours, though the original length was two and a half hours. From what I gather, what was removed was the last stretch of the movie, where the action stretches into the future, thus pushing the movie into the realm of science fiction. However, most of the comments I’ve found about this section of the movie feel that it betrays the rest of the movie by subverting the central conceit, as it all takes place AFTER the lovers meet. Since I wasn’t able to follow the dialogue, I’m not really qualified to comment, but I do have to admit that futuristic section feels terribly out of place, and that it occurs right after the movie has reached what would ideally be its ending. It might well be that the shorter version in this case would be the better movie, though that version wouldn’t qualify for inclusion in this series. Still, I guess that’s what makes this journey through the fantastic genres all the more interesting.

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