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The Things of Life (French: Les Choses de la vie) is a 1970 French drama film directed by Claude Sautet. Based on the novel Les Choses de la vie (English title Intersection) by Paul Guimard, the film circles around a car accident experienced by the main character, and the events before and after it. The film won the Louis Delluc Prize, and had 2,959,682 admissions in France, making it the eighth highest earning film of the year.[1]

The Things of Life
The Things of Life FilmPoster.jpeg
Film poster
Directed byClaude Sautet
Produced byJean Bolvary
Raymond Danon
Roland Girard
Screenplay bySandro Continenza
Jean-Loup Dabadie
Claude Sautet
Paul Guimard
Based onIntersection by Paul Guimard
StarringMichel Piccoli, Romy Schneider
Music byPhilippe Sarde
CinematographyJean Boffety
Edited byJacqueline Thiédot
Distributed byCompagnie Française de Distribution Cinématographique (France)
Columbia Pictures (United States)
Release date
  • 13 March 1970 (1970-03-13)
Running time
89 minutes


The structure of the film involves frequent jumps in time - between the time of, and after, the car crash, and before the crash. The opening sequence jumps between the period immediately after the crash, and the crash itself.

In the French countryside on a summer morning, a lorry full of pigs stalls at a crossroads. An Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint swerves to avoid it and crashes into an orchard, hurling the driver (Michel Piccoli) onto the grass. As he drifts in and out of consciousness, he revisits the essential things which make up his life.

A Paris architect in his forties driving to a meeting at Rennes, he had quarrelled with his lover Hélène (Romy Schneider) the previous night. They were due to leave together for a job he was offered in Tunis but he hadn't signed the documents. But he had agreed to take his teenage son Bertrand, who lived with his estranged wife Catherine, for a holiday in the family's holiday home on the Île de Ré. Stopping at a café, he wrote to Hélène calling everything off, but did not post the letter. Driving past a wedding, he decides that the letter was quite wrong and he should marry Hélène.

Rushed to hospital in Le Mans, he does not recover. As his widow, Catherine is given his effects, including the unsent letter to Hélène. Catherine is reading it when she sees Hélène arriving. She tears it to pieces, and Hélène is told by a nurse that she is too late.

Production and releaseEdit

The idea of making a film from the Paul Guimard's novel was originally turned down by multiple financiers in France. It was the fourth feature directed by Claude Sautet, and his first to become a major success. Sautet would work with actress Romy Schneider again on a number of further projects, including Sautet's next feature Max and the Junkmen. Sautet also hired young composer Philippe Sarde to write the score. That initiated a long partnership between the two, spanning twenty-five years and eleven films.[2] The car crash scene was shot on a crossroads specifically created for the purpose, and took three weeks to shoot.

The film was released by Compagnie Française de Distribution Cinématographique in France and Columbia Pictures in the United States.



The film won the 1969 Louis Delluc Prize, and had 2,959,682 admissions in France, making it the eighth highest earning film of 1970.[1]

Variety said that "directorial tact and visual solidity, fine, sensitive playing and observant characterization give an engrossing tang to this familiar tale", and added that the film "builds interest without resort to flashy sentiments or intellectual palaver."[3] Time Out remarked that while it's "difficult to make a film about banality without being boring in the process, but Sautet all but pulls it off, thanks to a beautifully understated performance from Piccoli."[4] The New York Times reviewer was more critical, saying "I should mind this syrup less if Sautet showed more of a conscience in serving it—if the relationships seemed to have been felt rather than merely displayed" but added "Piccoli is the only reasonable point of interest" in the film.[5]


The Things of Life was remade by American director Mark Rydell in 1994 as Intersection with Richard Gere, Lolita Davidovich (as the girlfriend) and Sharon Stone (as the ex partner). The remake was poorly received.


  1. ^ a b "Les Choses de la vie (1970) - JPBox-Office". Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  2. ^ German, Yuri. "Philippe Sarde | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  3. ^ Staff, Variety (1970-01-01). "Les Choses de la Vie". Variety. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  4. ^ "Les Choses de la Vie 1969 Film review". Time Out London. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  5. ^ Greenspun, Roger (1970-09-01). "Film: 'The Things of Life':Sautet Presents a Man Many Would Envy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-04.

External linksEdit