Tag Archives: Lea Seydoux

The Story of My Wife

Man makes crude bet with friend, vows to marry the next girl who walks in.

Sounds like the premise of one of those beach-reads romance novels, or a cheesy teen romance, but in fact, this is writer-director Ildikó Enyedi’s latest period drama. So what’s the difference?

Sea Captain Jacob Störr (Gijs Naber) is ready to marry, he declares to his friend. “To whom?” the friend inquires, naturally. Jacob doesn’t know yet, so he proposes that he will marry the very next woman who enters the café. Lucky for him it’s the lovely Lizzy (Léa Seydoux), who proves surprisingly amenable to his plan.

Is it a good idea to marry so impetuously? Jacob and Lizzy will soon find that love and marriage are about as turbulent as the seas he routinely conquers as captain of a large vessel, and not so easily navigated. Marriage without courtship, indeed without even basic familiarity, does pose its challenges. The Story of My Wife is the story of a man discovering his wife after he’s already married her. She’s coy, and teasing, and he can never get a good read on her, and since we know Lizzy only through Jacob’s eyes, neither can we. Is she sincere? Serious? Unfaithful or just a flirt? Whatever charm resides in her mysterious character evaporates in the sheer repetitiveness of the film, Jacob’s jealousy coming to a head over and over again.

Jacob is awkward on land, and even more uneasy when he finds himself unable to captain his marriage and steer it in the direction of his choosing. Used to taking people at their word to a fault, Jacob cannot credit his wife’s womanly wiles. It’s mildly interesting but this clunker takes on water steadily but takes almost as long as Titanic (the movie, about 3 hours) to sink. I’m quite sure that you’ll have jumped overboard long before then. The Story of My Wife beguiles us with its pretty 1920s setting and Seydoux’s luscious ringlets, but it ultimately fails to hold the attention.

The Story of My Wife is an official selection of TIFF21.


Got your fill of rom-coms? How about a sci-fi romance for a change?. Ewan McGregor plays Cole, an artificial intelligence engineer who creates a beautiful and highly realistic synthetic “woman” named Zoe (Lea Seydoux). Cole’s lab isn’t just making convincing companions, it’s also revolutionizing love. “The Machine” is a highly complex algorithm that can predict whether a relationship will ultimately work out. It has also synthesized a drug that can mimic the feeling of falling in love. But all of these things together don’t exactly mean a world full of meaningful relationships: humans will always exploit emotions. And Cole is lonelier than most.

MV5BZDZjOTUyNTctM2E0Zi00MGIwLWEyZmYtYTIzNDg2MmZiN2FmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzk3NjQ1MTc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Zoe doesn’t understand that she’s synthetic at first, and it’s a little heartbreaking when Cole has to tell her. Then she questions everything. Like these unrequited feelings she has for him – was she programmed to have them? She was not. But as the two grow closer, and become a couple, she senses things are still unequal. Knowing who she is, what she is, has him holding something back.

Zoe is a movie about the complexities of love, and what happens when technology disrupts it. Men are eager to visit synthetic brothels (Christina Aguilera plays a robot hooker, for some reason) but will they ever trust synthetics to have real feelings? Of course, in a world where those feelings can be manufactured and manipulated with a pill, I wonder if they haven’t been sufficiently devalued that synthetic or not, it shouldn’t really matter anymore.

At any rate, there are some really interesting ideas here, they just aren’t executed all that well. The movie opens up this delicious Pandora’s box but then offers almost no social commentary, and its protagonist’s navel-gazing is immature and insensitive. There are no glaring problems with any of the movie’s moving parts, it’s just that they don’t add up to anything all that gripping or compelling (except for the soundtrack, which was the only notable standout). With themes of authenticity of both personhood and emotion, Zoe pales in comparison to Ex Machina and even Her, and you can’t quite forgive its shortcomings. I suppose movies are a little like robots in that, if you can’t make it better, why bother making it at all?