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The Things of Life (French: Les Choses de la vie) is a 1970 French 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. It was nominated for the top award (the Palme d'Or) at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival.[1] In France the film had 2,959,682 admissions, making it the eighth highest earning film of the year. [2]

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 actor Romy Schneider again on a number of further projects, including Sautet's next feature Max et les Ferrailleurs(aka Max and the Junkmen). 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 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. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Things of Life". Retrieved 2009-04-10.
  2. ^

External linksEdit