I Want to Talk About Duras (Vous ne désirez que moi) (15)   French Film Festival

Hervé Vilard’s’60s hit Capri C’est Fini opens this fifth fiction feature from Director Claire Simon. Based on a set of interviews between Yann Andréa (Swann Arlaud)  and writer and journalist Michèle Manceaux (Emmanuelle Devos) in December 1982, the film is an intimate memoir of the unconventional relationship between Yann Andréa and writer and  playwright Marguerite Duras.

This deep dive into a relationship that defied conventions on more than one front, not least because of Andréa’s homosexuality and the 38 year age gap between him and Duras, is intensified by close shots that pan from the dispassionate Manceaux to the agitated Andréa. The tapes reveal his fear of women as a gay man and his utter obsession with this particular woman and her works yet he continues episodes of cottaging where the sex is ‘separate’ and detached.  

Footage of Duras intersperse the interview shots where her fierce directorial style is evident giving credence to Andréa’s description of his subordinate role to which he was addicted  in which Duras referred  to him in the feminine.

We are given a brief glimpse of the private life of Michèle Manceaux, a long term friend of Duras, as she mulls the information that’s been fed to her while heading home in relentless rain to which she seems to have been as impermeable as she was to her interviewee’s revelations.

Some stills of sexual art from Judith Fraggi form unusual interludes to this intense and revealing film, along with some light relief from sunny coastal shots of the Normandy resort of Trouville where Duras lived.

The title of the book by Michèle Manceaux, that was based on the transcribed unedited tapes, je voudrais te parler de Duras, is mirrored by the film’s English title that reflects  Yann’s wish whereas the French title of the film, that translates as You Only Love Me,  is more reflective of Duras’ dominant perspective on the relationship.

The confessional tapes of Yann Andréa passed through several hands over years but he never got them back. This film offers an insight for anyone who knows Duras’ work  into a part of her life as well as exposing  the workings of what can be described as an  alternative relationship.

Their unconventional dynamics directly influenced her disturbing 1982 novella la Maladie de la Mort that was interpreted by Paris company Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord as part of the 2018 Edinburgh International Festival.

Irene Brown

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