A wonderfully exhilarating melodrama from French writer/director Arnaud Desplechin, Kings And Queens weaves together two intersecting stories. There's the tale of Nora (Emmanuelle Devos), a bereaved bourgeois single mother who's on the verge of marrying for a third time, but whose father is dying of cancer - and there's the story of Ismaël (Mathieu Amalric), a neurotic violinist temporarily confined to a psychiatric clinic. He turns out to be Nora's second husband and she wants him to adopt her young son.
In exploring the complex nature of family ties and responsibilities, Desplechin deploys a range of storytelling techniques - flashbacks, dream sequences, straight-to-camera monologues - to play around with our perspectives towards Ismaël and Nora. Shot with verve, this is a film that ricochets between emotional extremes, yet Desplechin refuses to judge his characters, preferring to celebrate their vitality and perseverance. Impressive.
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