Daniel Auteuil (Manon of the Spring) plays Stephane, the curiously diffident coowner of an exclusive violin brokerage and repair shop. A brilliant technician, Stephane can make any instrument live up to its promise, yet he is emotionally remote himself, disconnected from passionate experience. His partner, Maxime (André Dussollier), lacks Stephane's gifts but is rich in personality and desire. When Maxime's new lover, a violinist named Camille (Emmanuelle Béart), is drawn to Stephane's still waters, the latter is briefly moved, thus destroying the fragile, symbiotic relationship between all three individuals. Veteran French filmmaker Claude Sautet (of the Oscar-winning César et Rosalie) has made a powerful film here expressed in the smallest of gestures, just as one might tune the strings of a violin ever-so-slightly to achieve perfection. Sautet indeed employs such a sonorous motif in this story, in which violins always seem to be playing and suggesting that the principal characters look at life as they do music: something to be tinkered with and manipulated for effect. --Tom Keogh
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