André Téchiné’s films exist in a rarefied atmosphere between idyllic nostalgia and haunting memory. Ma Saison Préferée is the bittersweet story of Emilie (Catherine Deneuve), a successful, repressed, middle aged business woman, sensitively told through the banality of everyday life: a pervasive, uncomfortable silence during family dinner; a vague conversation with her degeneratively ill mother who suffers from lapses of reason; an awkward, emotionally restrained reunion with her estranged brother Antoine (Daniel Auteuil). It is a film about unspoken emotional wounds that never heal – that seem to tear at the heart – but never consume completely. Ma Saison Preferee is a beautifully realized, deeply unsettling film about loss of connection and emotional isolation.
The order of the seasons, prefaced by the four acts, provides the thematic evolution for Ma Saison préferée. The story begins in autumn, which symbolizes, not only Emilie’s age (as in Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata), but also the deterioration of her relationship with her family. Winter is punctuated with the seeming end to her marriage and departure. The advent of spring resurrects Antoine’s aberrant childhood dependency on the vulnerable Emilie. Summer brings about a tenuous family reconciliation. Through all the seasons, a pale yellow haze suffuses the film’s exterior shots, creating an atmosphere that is unnatural and suffocating. For Emilie, there is nothing redemptive in the changing of the seasons, only an eternal pattern of sacrifice, alienation, and silence. Inevitably, Ma Saison Préferée is about the idle passage of time: too slowly to precipitate change, too quickly to realize the consequences.
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