By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated October 09, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Out of a small, elliptical story about the unraveling of a relationship — Scenes From a Marriage with Parisians instead of Swedes — grand French stars Isabelle Huppert (La Ceremonie) and Daniel Auteuil (The Eighth Day) create Anne and Pierre, attractive characters of superb depth, bound in love, hate, boredom, anger, and devotion to the toddler son who, at one point, becomes a pawn in their painful endgame. Writer-director Christian Vincent (La Discrete) doesn’t let on just what has led Anne to fall in love with another man (Huppert makes Anne a believably cool and dissatisfied mystery — a classic Huppertian type), nor do we meet him. Instead, Vincent lets the poison do its work slowly, by degrees, as a bewildered, self-contained Pierre (a classic Auteuillian type) sinks into misery, fury, and an aching need to videotape his little boy sleeping and gently breathing.

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