Lover for a Day
(Philippe Garrel)

Esther Garrel in a scene from Philippe Garrel's  Lover for a Day  {Photo: MUBI}

Esther Garrel in a scene from Philippe Garrel's Lover for a Day {Photo: MUBI}

Lover for a Day screens at the AMC River East 21 on Friday, October 13 at 6:15PM and Saturday, October 14 at 12:30PM. Actress Esther Garrel is scheduled to attend both dates for a post-screening Q&A. For additional ticketing information, refer to the Chicago International Film Festival website here

Comparatively light to my previous experiences with the French auteur, Lover for Day is nevertheless suffused with all the subtle delights that come from Philippe Garrel’s brand of cinema. Akin to Garrel’s previous film, the excellent In the Shadow of Women, we follow the perpetually fickle relationships of Parisian ingénues and their beaus. Here, the film centers on the rather frumpy-looking Gilles (Éric Caravaca) a professor who takes one his students Ariane (Louise Chevillotte) as a lover. We’re first introduced to the two in the throes of passion before Garrel slyly cuts to his title card, in one of those humorous winks toward frivolity that Garrel has developed into an art. Shortly after this sequence we follow Jeanne (Esther Garrel, Philippe’s daughter and featured in Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming Call Me By Your Name), recently dumped, and retreating to stay with Gilles, her father, as she hopes to pick up the pieces of her life.

The dramatic conceit that follows finds Jeanne and Ariane compete for Gilles’ affection, which lends itself to some dizzyingly humorous moments. Each character begins to amass a list of grievances against the other, in what becomes an exercise in self-sabotage. The effort, complemented by Renato Berta’s exquisite black-and-white photography, Garrel’s stylistic playfulness, and the effervescence of his performers is equal parts simple as it is charming.