Unlike Ebba in “Force Majeure” and Nica in “The Loneliest Planet,” Pomme (Emmanuelle Devos), doesn’t experience a sudden jolt, a shocking action, which leads to a wrenching reassessment of her partner’s character. For Pomme, in writer and director Sophie Fillières’ “If You Don’t, I Will,” it’s the slow buildup over time of seemingly insignificant words, actions, events, that leads to the breakdown in her relationship with long-time partner Pierre (Mathieu Amalric) and propels her flight into the woods where they were hiking. For Pomme it’s what familiarity breeds and all that.
Frequent co-stars Devos and Amalric’s portrayal of a sophisticated couple in Lyon resisting the inevitable end is sad and honest. Trying to orchestrate spontaneity, Pierre proposes champagne at home in the afternoon. But finding none cold, puts a bottle into the freezer on a quick-chill setting and it explodes. The scene with the two carefully licking the Gallic slushy from the shards is oddly funny and oddly moving.
After walking away from Pierre (and the bickering) into the Chamoiselle Forest, Pomme spends her time in the enormous quiet, feeling the basics–cold, hunger, fatigue–and reimagining her life. She leaves after several days and stays briefly in a small hotel but she recognizes that it’s a false start and walks back into the woods.
Finding a large, sheltered hole, she makes it her home and when a young, sweet-faced chamois (a goat-antelope species), slides down and is trapped, she lifts it up and out, saving its life. And emerging from the woods for a second time, Pomme goes home to her comfortable apartment and her husband, changed.
“If You Don’t, I Will” will open on Wednesday, December 17 at Film Forum for a two-week run.