Philippe Garrel’s In the Shadow of Women doesn’t stray far from the director’s usual formula. Like most of his films, it’s a throwback to the nouvelle vague, using that movement’s stripped-down experimentation to depict a tumultuous relationship. Yet Garrel diverges from his usual early-Godardian prism of wounded (but also analyzed and critiqued) male insecurity and tracks closer to Eric Rohmer’s milder politics and aesthetics.
For the most part, the film derives much of its humor not from the efforts of the couple to keep their affairs hidden, but in the warped jealousies that arise between the characters.
In the Shadow of Women also makes a surprise of its own intentions in the last few minutes by becoming a comedy of remarriage that reorients the preceding 70 minutes as a muted screwball. Through it all, the women never get too tripped up by the narcissistic cowardice of their men.