In his followup to Un Coeur en Hiver (1991), French director Claude Sautet demonstrates his abiding interest in intimacy and the ways in which men and women yearn for a chance to share their innermost selves with others.
In Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud, a 25-year-old Parisian leaves her unemployed husband and begins working for a rich, charming, elderly gentleman who is writing a memoir on his experiences as a judge. Nelly (Emmanuelle Beart), who transcribes his dictations on a word processor, relishes being the center of his attention. She helps him re-work the material and responds to his questions about her private life. Monsieur Arnaud (Michel Serrault) sees Nelly as his muse and grows quite possessive when she starts dating Vincent (Jean-Hugues Anglade), his publisher.
The subtle screenplay beautifully conveys the deep desire of the two lead characters for closeness and connection her heart has been broken and his life, despite all the trappings of wealth, is quite empty. Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud is an impeccably performed psychodrama about the search for intimacy. Claude Sautet has made another enchanting French film.