“Don’t blame me for being a man.”
What is the cost of infidelity within a marriage? Should it just be assumed that a man will wander? What about a woman? In the Shadow of Women takes a look at such questions in the lives of a young couple. Pierre (Stanislas Merhar) and Manon (Clotilde Mourau) are a pair of documentary filmmakers. They are very much in love. Manon serves in the background as Pierre advances his career. In reality, Pierre is a bit of a slug and in many ways it is Manon who is far more involved in their work.
One day, Pierre meets a young intern and begins an affair. He likes the idea of having a mistress, but also wants to maintain his marriage. But when his mistress discovers that Manon has an affair of her own, the situation becomes much more volatile.
In a world where many people claim self-actualization as a motive of doing things that may be hurtful to others (or themselves), this film shows the consequences of such an approach to life. The film is not really interested in looking for fault or for villains in the story. It merely shows us what happens and where that ends up leading for all those involved.
It is of note that the documentary Pierre and Manon are working on is about an aging man who was a part of the French Resistance during World War II. That story serves, in the end, for a way of us to see the meaning or deception within relationships—and perhaps may even point out that it is only by moving through deception and betrayal that we can find a sense of comfort that allows us to lead a life of happiness, even if it is built upon the mistakes of the past.