Sog.: based on the novel of the same name (1967) by Paul Guimard. Scen.: Paul Guimard, Jean-Loup Dabadie, Claude Sautet. F.: Jean Boffety. M.: Jacqueline Thiédot. Scgf.: André Piltant. Mus.: Philippe Sarde. Int.: Michel Piccoli (Pierre Bérard), Romy Schneider (Hélène), Lea Massari (Catherine Bérard), Gérard Lartigau (Bertrand Bérard), Jean Bouise (François), Henri Nassiet (il padre di Pierre), Marcelle Arnold (la madre di Hélène), Boby Lapointe (l’autista del camion). Prod.: Raymond Danon, Roland Girard, Jean Bolvary, Edmondo Amati, Maurizio Amati per Lira Films, Sonocam, Fida Cinematografica. DCP. Col.
Les Choses de la vie, thousands of seconds suspended in a single instant, like bacteria rendered visible in a droplet of death through the magnification of the microscope camera. Rarely has a camera captured to such an extent the ordinariness of death, as the outcome of an ordinary life. This irruption of the unforeseeable that makes someone else’s death unexpectedly remind us of our own. Moving with prodigious virtuosity from the subjective to the objective, alternating facts relived, not as a simple succession of flashbacks, but like musical motifs woven into a mental soundtrack, the film illuminates death from above, its high point and its end point, the entire gradient of a life. Never has a filmmaker so subtly brought us to identify with our possibilities, with our unknown, with a death that is just around the corner, with this downward spiral, where we’re pulled inexorably along a slow-motion catastrophe: a provisional present, one we know the origin of, which has its own span, and which punctuates, according to another time span, the resurgence of your past. […] Not since Resnais have I seen a filmmaker who has given us, in one span of time, on the power and the mystery of memory, a film of such depth and majesty. A work of art that seems to flow from its source and from which the proceeds, the sense of ellipsis, of rhythm (in this perpetual balancing from the subjective to the objective) never seem artificial. Because Claude Sautet doesn’t cheat; fadeouts, fields of vision and reverse angles are used unabashedly only according to a logic which is that of the overall vision, of the internal monologue that becomes a dialogue of images. Because he loves life, and this film about somebody’s death is a poem about life, painful yet tender, the filmmaker reveals for human beings and objects a sensibility that is attentive, super-sensitive and fraternal.
Michel Capdenac [Charles Dobzynski], “Les Lettres Française”, 11 March 1970
She has a beauty that she herself has forged. A blend of venomous charm and virtuous purity. She was both radiant and bruised, and an actress who already knew everything, but had never been able to express it. Romy is vivacity itself, she has an animal-like vivacity, with abrupt changes of expression, going from the most powerful aggression to subtle gentleness. Romy is not your average actress, she’s on a stellar dimension. She possesses an ambiguity that is the preserve of the great stars. I’ve seen her in front of the camera, focused, anguished, developing with a nobility, an impulsivity, a moral stance that hinders and unsettles men.
Claude Sautet in Michel Boujut, Conversation avec Claude Sautet, Institut Lumière / Actes Sud, Paris 2014