Pierre, a documentary filmmaker, works in partnership with his wife, Manon. They make films without a cent, but at least have each other. Pierre encounters Elisabeth, a beautiful intern at the film archive where he’s doing research on his latest documentary, a portrait of an elderly French resistance fighter. They begin a blissful affair. But gradually that initial euphoria yields for Pierre to a sense of being trapped in not just one relationship but two. When he learns that his wife is also having an affair, Pierre turns his attention back to her.
Philippe Garrel started his career in the late 1960s at the end of the New Wave, but shares with it the themes of analysis of personal and professional intimacies in the lives of bohemian characters that resemble himself. As in many of his other films, In the Shadow of Women mixes life, politics, and art, and analyses the relationship between the sexes.
The third-person narration (told by son Louis Garrel) adds a level of distance and humorous self-analysis to the self- absorption of the male ego. The film also offers nuanced and accurate portraits of independent women.