I stumbled over the films of Roland Verhavert by chance (via Netflix). His films remind me of the works of the works by Paul Verhoeven or Roman Polanski. Rolande met de bles is a dark, at times noirish (in a Henry James way) period drama set right after WWI. It's 1920/21. Renier, a wealthy landowner, has returned from the war to his estate in Belgium. But the war left a mark on him. He's a widower with a son (of very fragile health), living together with his family (his mother, his son, his sons nanny and a doctor/house friend) on a vast and beautiful estate. Everyone expects him to return to his usual life as the Family patriarch caring for the family, the family's name, his son and the estate) and to remarry (the child's nanny, who is madly in love with him. But during the war he has met the Parisian girl Rolande (a classic femme fatale) and fell passionately in love. Life cannot go on the same way as before the war. But there's another problem. Rolande has to get her divorce through before moving on and stays in Paris, where she's also involved in a new business, a beauty farm. To Renier she's distant and present at the same time. They have only brief encounters/dates and communicate mainly via letters, but she occupies his every thought. He complies to help her financially with building up another beauty farm in Brussels as he waits for her in his estate. But the distance between glamorous life in Paris and luxurious rural life in Belgium still remains and Renier cannot cope. Tragedy unfolds slowly.
This is told masterfully with beautiful cinematography, filmed on location. We see Renier on a downward spiral like we've seen in a similar way with the protagonist in the second half of Stanley Kubricks Barry Lyndon (that came out three years later). Also similar to Barry Lyndon there's a off-voice narrator marking the significant plot points or informing us about the contents of the letters between Renier and Rolande in a dry, distant and not particularly involved manner. These similarities alone should make the film interesting for any cinephile.
It's a real treat for those who love 70s European cinema or period dramas.