Christophe Honoré‘s 17 Fois Cécile Cassard is a film encompassing 17 fragments in the life of its title hero, a disconsolate widow who can’t seem to overcome her husband’s suicide. It is not a selfish suicide but one of self-sacrifice – in order to secure her future and their son’s with insurance money. As her sense of bereavement, however, becomes too much, she becomes incapable of living from day to day and taking care of her son. She must leave everything behind – her hometown of
Through 17 moments that trace a trajectory from grief to recovery, Honoré dramatizes a familiar story and perhaps a personal, autobiographical one, dedicated to the director's parents. By no means, however, do these fragments -- stylized and aestheticized -- form a clear-cut and conventional story. There is a suffocating sense of unreality to the proceedings: the characters Cécile Cassard meets along the way may not be mere people but abstractions incarnate; his final destination,
Another promising alumnus of Cahiers du Cinéma – a part of the second generation after Godard, Truffaut and company? — Christophe Honoré fashions out a brave and bold debut, a film that doesn’t so much take its cue from traditional plotting as it does from the gradual processes of life. We see the gradations from loss to renewal unfold as they should, with compact and quiet tonalities.
Honoré takes away the literalness of the film's theme and subjects, and grounds them in a defamiliarized milieu.