Friendship between three middle-aged men sits as solid and fragile as their egos, glowing with all the sunshine and shade of a weekend break. Walter (Gérard Lanvin) owns a successful restaurant, Jacques (Wladimir Yordanoff) a bookshop and Paul (Jean-Hugues Anglade) is writer. Set in Paris and a beachside house with breath-taking views, conflict and comradeship is conducted over wine, food and nicotine.
Walter is the strong taste here. Charismatic and tricky, he is quick to temper, quick to love and has all the force of an Atlantic wave. He has a close relationship with his joyful twenty-year old daughter, Clémence (Ana Girardot) and cannot tolerate any kind of lie. Not from anyone. It’s a stick as strong as his spine and there’s little room for forgiveness. His hardline has broken his marriage and cracked friendships.
And so when Jacques and Paul’s lives become complicated they are forced to lie. Their decision is unsurprising. Jacques is gay and for some reason chooses to hide it. He’s also running for mayor, which is problematic as the current one is Walter’s friend. Meanwhile, Paul is having an affair with Clémence.
No matter how much Walter may hate a lie, his friends surmise he’ll hate the truth even more, and so they remain clandestine in their pursuits.
Jacques is a warm presence: the gentle and troubled smile in the trio. His bookshop hosts the wine and conversation, yet the overwhelming Walter still places him in the shadows.
Paul (Anglade) knows what to say, and what not to say. Anglade’s face is emotional topography. Although controlled and taut with chipped-at male pride, Paul still collapses into Clémence’s charms: mallow dissolving hot liquid.
Despite Walter’s charisma, it’s curious why he has managed to hold close to Paul and Jacques for so many years. After all, it’s unlikely this is the first clash with Walter’s titanic moral code. But this is France and this is cinema and the logic is unique.
At heart Amitiés Sincères is about the idea of accepting change and staying strong in friendship: it’s a muse over a glass on the terrace, looking out at the ocean and spotting the rock that a tempest cannot shift.
Directors: Stephan Archinard and François Prévôt-Leygonie (2012)