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Film / A Heart In Winter

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A love story by French director Claude Sautet, released in 1992.

Stéphane (Daniel Auteuil) is an introverted and stoic violonist-maker and repairer associated with his best friend Maxime (André Dussolier). One day, Maxime reveals to Stéphane that he has been dating one of their client, a young violonist named Camille (Emmanuelle Béart). Camille is at first annoyed by Stéphane's apparent indifference, but she soon realizes that she loves him with passion, and Stéphane has to come to term with the fact that he might love her too.


This film provides examples of:

  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Possibly. Camille is somewhat annoyed that among his manipulations, Stéphane didn't have sex with her.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Downplayed, several months after Stéphane and Maxime's split up following the latter's manipulation, they reunite to help Lachaume put an end to his pain and ultimately Stéphane is the one to do it.
  • Celibate Hero: Stéphane, much to Camille's dismay. He goes on to say that he is "incapable" of such feelings; not as in "I am aromantic or asexual" but rather as a part of his personality.
    Roger Ebert: He is flattered, and overwhelmed; he finds her beautiful and desires her. That would be the end of the story, except that it gradually develops that Stephane is in no mood to commit himself to their relationship. He is not physically incapable, but it's as if his personality is impotent.
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  • Don't Think, Feel: What Camille urges Stéphane to do.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lachaume, Maxime and Stéphane's former teacher is dying from an unnamed illness, and asks to be put out of his misery because of the pain.
  • For the Evulz / It Amused Me: Possible reasons for Stéphane screwing with Camille's feeling.
  • Freudian Excuse: Averted, Stéphane rebukes Camille for trying to find some hidden explanation for being what he is.
    Stéphane: What do you want? Some childhood trauma? Some sexual frustration? Some disappointment regarding my vocation?
  • Hypocrite: Near the end of the film, Camille openly confesses her feelings to Stéphane and he rejects her. Some times later, she shames him for being so stoic and closed to passion despite the fact that during her confession she said that she accepted him for who he was.
    • While the mocking could transpire as retribution for Stéphane playing with her feelings, her following comment about how he should have "fucked her", gives the impression that she's just bitter that Stéphane didn't make an exception for her. Plus, had the roles been reversed, Camille's spiting speech would have appeared less like a passionate lover's suffering and more like a tantrum brought out by sexual frustration. Additionally, her comment about "all the things they said to each other" to convince Stéphane that they should be together (which Stéphane point out is false).
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  • Ice King: Stéphane, probably one of the best male example of the trope. Overlaps with Empty Shell.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Averted for the most part. Yes, most of Stéphane's friends acknowledge that he's not like everyone else and while some of them dislike him for his indifferent front, none of them seem to shame him for his lonely lifestyle.
  • Mad Love: Camille becomes obsessed with Stéphane to the point that her playing is alternatively lessened or bested whether she feels Stéphane reciprocates her feeling or not. She also confesses that she desires him and wants to sleep with him on their first "date" despite it not being the kind of thing she usually does.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Hélène, Stéphane's friend observes that the latter knows what he is doing by playing on Camille's attraction to him and that he gains pleasure from it.
  • Oblivious to Love: Stéphane, or at least he pretends to.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Camille gives Stéphane a harsh one at the end of the movie:
    Camille: (mocking tone) They say he loves music, because it's "dream stuff", because it got nothing to do with life. Jerk, you know nothing of dreams. You got no imagination, no heart, no balls. (pointing at his heart) You got nothing in there.
  • Rejected Apology: Played With, Stéphane doesn't actually apologize (he explicitly says that he didn't come for this) but Camille rebukes him anyway.
  • The Stoic: Stéphane, he rarely shows any emotion.


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