The Last Days of Chez Nous

Women are at the heart of this extraordinary film, a Down Under Hannah and Her Sisters from Australian director Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career) and writer Helen Garner (Two Friends). At Chez Nous, the house in Sydney she bought with her earnings as an author, Beth (the luminous Lisa Harrow) is the calm in a storm created by her discontented French husband, J.P. (Bruno Ganz), her distracted teen daughter, Annie (Miranda Otto), and her pregnant and unmarried sister, Vicki (Kerry Fox), home from Europe with a thinly veiled resentment toward her successful sibling. When Beth takes off for two weeks to get closer to her crusty father (Bill Hunter), Chez Nous becomes the setting for a series of emotional eruptions, starting with an affair between J.P. and Vicki.

Beth returns to find her house in an uproar and her life in ruins. Chez Nous brims over with humor and heart-break, but don't expect any histrionics. This is a family that learns to live with the consequences of breaking the ties that bind. Armstrong, a gifted director in top form, draws inspired performances in a keenly observant film about the dynamics of relationships.

From The Archives Issue 475: June 5, 1986
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