Nicolas Bedos, a French theater director, actor and comedian, and actress Doria Tillier, his real-life wife, co-wrote and star under his direction in “Mr. & Mrs. Adelman,” a quirky comedy/drama about a French couple.
The film spans more than 40 years of the characters’ complicated relationship, from the 1970s to the present, in a behind-the-scenes, almost reality TV look at their private lives, families, love and contempt, as well as his therapy sessions.
The film begins at the funeral of Victor (Bedos). A successful writer, he has many fans who are mourning his death. To escape the crowd at her home, widow Sarah (Tillier) holds a private conversation with a journalist who wants to know more about the woman behind the man. There is even the suggestion that she may have killed Victor herself.
The flashback of their lives is revealed as she tells her story.
At the start, Victor is an egocentric, mediocre writer who appears to express himself more in the physical realm than the mental. He’s self-absorbed and occupied with how he measures up, both professionally and in the size of his private parts, discussed at length in his therapy sessions.
Sarah, a doctoral student of poetry, falls in love with Victor and improves his writing with her edits. He moves on to other women while she tries to re-establish a connection to him by dating first his best friend, then his brother.
Although not religious, Sarah is Jewish and assists Victor with his first novel, about a family of Holocaust survivors. Victor declares one morning that he “feels” Jewish and takes Sarah’s last name, Adelman.
Their roller-coaster life includes the birth of a son with disabilities, Victor’s announcement that he’s bored with his wife, resulting in her extreme behaviors, and the birth of a daughter who, in her father’s eyes, can do no wrong.
The family dynamics are disturbing and uncomfortable to watch. Then the couple’s aging process becomes the focus.
The startling ending is gripping, and secrets are revealed. The fast-paced “Mr. & Mrs. Adelman” is interesting and holds the viewer’s attention throughout the film.
(Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Jan. 28, 11 a.m., Atlantic Station; Jan. 30, 7:20 p.m., Hollywood; Jan. 31, 11:30 a.m., Perimeter Pointe; Feb. 7, 2:10 p.m., Tara; Feb. 14, 7:10 p.m., Springs)