From the time she was 65 until her death 16 years later in 1996, the celebrated French writer Marguerite Duras (”The Lover”) lived with Yann Andrea, a man nearly 40 years her junior, who served as her paramour, muse, apprentice, secretary, enabler, and nurse. Andrea’s book about their stormy life together, which was lubricated by alcohol and their mutual belief in her genius, is the basis of writer-director Josee Dayan’s biographical oddity Cet Amour-là, in which Jeanne Moreau plays Duras and Aymeric Demarigny is Andrea.
You can forget about veracity, since this gauzy and sometimes dopey romanticization can’t be trusted. You can ignore Demarigny, too, who plays Andrea as a damp and weedy nonentity hardly worth housebreaking. But you can’t ignore the astonishing, often terrifying sight of La Moreau, a canny lioness in her 70s, demanding obeisance to her own legendary stature in world cinema. Moreau — who knew Duras — makes her every gesture an act of grande dame-itude, her hands holding a pen or a wineglass as if it were a queen’s scepter.