Review: ‘An Eye for Beauty’ is a shallow affair

Melanie Thierry and Eric Bruneau play a loving couple in rural Quebec. Then the husband strays.
( Seville International)

An ambitious young architect discovers that life seldom follows a set of blueprints in Denys Arcand’s “An Eye for Beauty,” an insistently distancing if aesthetically pleasing Canadian production.

A chance reencounter while accepting an award in Paris takes confident Luc (Éric Bruneau) back to a time in his life when he seemed to have everything going for him, including a great home in idyllic rural Quebec that he shares with his beautiful, affectionate wife (Mélanie Thierry).

But the enviable life he has built begins to show fissures in the foundation around the same time he (graphically) succumbs to the rather forceful charms of a married woman (Melanie Merkosky) he meets during a business trip to Toronto.

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While Arcand has forged a deserved reputation as a gifted satirist, adroitly navigating the sexual-political landscape in acclaimed films such as 1986’s “The Decline of the American Empire” and 2003’s Oscar-winning “The Barbarian Invasions,” the rewards in this two-year-old production are far fewer, with bland characters that feel schematically drawn rather than possessing a beating pulse.

It certainly looks fetching thanks to the refined elegance of the production design and that lushly scenic cinematography, which even manages to make a game of golf appear sultry and inviting.

When it comes to any emotional resonance, however, “An Eye for Beauty” is all façade.


‘An Eye for Beauty’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica.