This is Claude Sautet's last film and many noticed the physical resemblance between the director himself and Michel Serrault, who plays M. Arnaud in this picture. This is often considered Sautet's most personal picture, a delicate and intimate story of relations introduced with the utmost subtlety, hinted rather than declared, and displaying the acute sensibility of utter identification with its characters. Nelly (Beart) is a young under employed woman, in debt, about to divorce her no-good husband. She is hired by M. Arnaud, a retired magistrate and businessman, whose wife lives in Geneva with another man and whose children hardly speak to him, to type and edit his memoirs. He also offers to pay her debts, no strings attached. She is beautiful, amused, detached; he is observant and probing. She meets his youthful publisher (Jean-Hugues Anglade) and they begin a love affair, which ultimately leads nowhere. Separated from a husband she cannot abide, Nelly's friendship with Arnaud is her only refuge. She may be intrigued by his reserve and personality despite the age difference between them. He is charmed by her beauty, and probably desires her, but will not take the risk of being rejected. A most sophisticated, intelligent and touching love story, in which love is hardly ever mentioned.
CLAUDE SAUTET – Trained as a painter and sculptor, later revealed himself as a music critic, before he graduated from the famous IDHEC film school in Paris. First known as a screenwriter and a script doctor that most French filmmakers would approach every time they needed help with their screenplays, he started his career as a director with several thrillers, before directing the richly complex “Les Choses De La Vie” (1970) featuring Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider, two of the actors he was to include often in his subsequent films.He is considered one of the greatest French filmmakers of his time, with a predilection for dealing with the French middle class, displaying a rare understanding and perspicacity in the characters he put on screen. Among his best known films are “Vincent, Francois, Paul et Les Auters”, “Cesar et Rosalie”, “Un Coeur en Hiver” and “Nelly et Mr. Arnaud”, all of them included this year in Arava's tribute to his work.