Here’s the difficulties mentioned in other reviews:
Why does the cross on the wall keep being taken down and reappear. I noticed the daughter had a cross necklace, but so what? It was obviously her, but did it mean anything other than feeling like the guest was being too pushy removing it?
Did it mean anything that the old man’s daughter was a dwarf that looked his age?
Did it matter that the belly scar was from the accident killing her mom?
How could a mystery writer be so stupid as to bury someone in the garden and then request the gardener to do more work? Why not let it sit until next summer?
Was it just too false to have the new book published instantly? It should take 6 months to a year.
Why does the diary and mother’s book get mentioned and then ignored in the ending?
Does it make sense at any level, or is it just a typical French film board project where they take a novel with lots of internal dialog and just film the action parts and hope we can figure out what people people are thinking?
Did you feel, as I did (and the minority of reviewers) that it just needed some more work, that they stopped filming when the money ran out, leaving off the tie-it-all-together scenes?
There have been at least two other recent threads on this film. You should search for them.
However, the general consensus is that:
[spoiler]Most of the movie after she arrives in France is all in her head and is part of the novel she is writing. Julie the French daughter doesn’t exist. We see the real daughter at the end of the film morph into the French Julie.
All the strangeness is just colorful events that she is putting into her novel. The scene with the publisher in the end is also an imaginary revenge wish-fulfillment fantasy.[/spoiler]
Knowing this may make the film work better for you. Once I thought the film through in light of the ending, however, I realized that the ending destroyed any character development that the movie had.
Well, I did sort of think from the beginning (since it has been used many times in better movies) that lots of the film would be daydreaming.
In fact, now that I mention it, perhaps that is Ebert’s key to it all -
The entire thing is a revenge dream from the very beginning before she even gets in to see the publisher, while he is still tied up with the new writer.
Then it doesn’t “have” to tie together, since revenge dreams in real life don’t, but of course if it were a better movie it would tie together.
Thanks for mentioning the other threads, I will look for them. I looked down the first few pages of threads and didn’t see it, and of course we aren’t supposed to search when things are slow.
First, before the spoiler, I’ll say I didn’t like the movie much. The characters never really revealed anything that made them interesting or even human, and the plot twist, such as it was, was just lame and unimaginitive. Even having the hot young blonde running around topless (and occaisonally bottomless) most of the movie didn’t redeem it for me. After reading “A Year in Provence”, the outside shots of the valley were the best part of the movie for me. Quel dommage.
I thought that everything having to do with the naked-most-of-the-time Julie was just the writer’s book. ("Why did you kill him?’ "I had to… for the book’).
Since we did see a flash of the young-with-braces-Julie at the pool,
I thought that the real braces Julie was indeed at the house for a time, but the writer took that as the starting point to invent a sexier, bloodier interlude.
But if there’s a more interesting interpretation, I’d like to hear it.
Quercus’s explanation of the movie is exactly what mine would have been. As for the specific questions:
I took this as one of two things (leaning toward the former):
[li]The writer’s ability to reimagine the events around her was imperfect, so elements that she had “removed” popped back again if she wasn’t paying enough attention[/li][li]The disappearing/reappearing cross was some moral comment on the events that were transpiring at that particular time.[/li][/ul]
I kept expecting the daughter’s physical appearance to mean something, but as best as I can tell, she was just the writer’s fanciful imagination adding colorful elements to the book.
Only inasmuch as the scar foreshadows to the reader/viewer that Julie was lying about her mother living in Nice.
Exactly my reaction until I realized that most of the events at the villa were being heavily embellished by the imagination. Then, the stupidity of that move made sense in a bad mystery novel way. We’re led to believe that the writer is known more for safe quaint mystery novels rather than anything particularly inventive - hence the comments at the end about how different the new book is compared to her usual style.
Is the timeframe between her leaving the house and when she returns to the publisher ever clearly established? I could easily see her telling her editor that the book wasn’t finished yet, all the while shopping it to another publisher. Having served as an editor at a publishing house, I can assure you that timely delivery of manuscripts is a rare and wonderful event <BG>.
I think the diary/Julie’s mother’s book is an element within the new book, something she presumably quotes at length as if they were real - rather like Lovecraft’s Necronomicon.
This is why I resent foreign films.
I go, and enjoy them for the nudity and for the rush of “travel nostalgia”.
But I do resent that they are judged by such lax standards compared to American films.
They can get 84% “fresh” rankings on the critics’ master list **RottenTomatoes.com ** for something that would rate No Stars if American made, even if it was an Indie film.
It would be so nice to see a film with nudity, travel interest, AND a story that held together enough you could recommend it to friends without fear of them hating you later.