Rotten Tomatoes
Cancel Movies Tv shows Shop News Showtimes

Life and Nothing But

PG 1990 2h 14m Drama List
Reviews 86% Audience Score 250+ Ratings At the end of World War I, Major Delaplane (Philippe Noiret) has a grim assignment ahead of him -- he must count the corpses left on the battlefields and determine their identities. While in the process of doing his duty, Delaphane meets Irene (Sabine Azéma), whose husband is believed to be among the dead. Slowly, Delaplane begins to fall for her, but this burgeoning romance becomes more complicated when the major receives word that Irene's husband may still be alive. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

View All (4) Critics Reviews
Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Rated: 4/5 Jul 1, 2005 Full Review Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat Spirituality & Practice A remarkable film about post World War I France Jul 20, 2003 Full Review Greg Muskewitz A masterfully directed film, exquistely acted by Azma and Vidal. Rated: 5/5 Jul 10, 2003 Full Review Philip Martin Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Rated: 3/5 Feb 28, 2003 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (15) audience reviews
Audience Member Subtle and penetrating film set in the aftermath of WW1 about how the French government didn't bother trying to identify the bodies of thousands of its war casualties for business reasons and instead deflected attention by creating the Unknown Soldier testimonial under the Arc de Triomph. Although the style is a little staid, the film still has an impact with Noiret on top form. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/25/23 Full Review Audience Member Fascinating, with an excellent sense of period detail. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Audience Member Tallying the Forgotten The average American no longer knows this, but Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day, the day when the graves of the Civil War dead were tended. The US Civil War is one of the first from which the average soldier's body even had a chance of being sent home. It's true that the great sweep of Arlington National Cemetery is full of those who did not make that last journey, including many buried with no name. The fields of Gettysburg, among other places, are filled with those who were buried pretty much as they lay. However, with the advent of railroad transportation, bodies stood a much better chance of getting home before they were too disgusting to contemplate. However, the way war works means that not all bodies will make it back to their loved ones. This was perhaps especially true in the first few "modern" wars, the ones where technology to inflict mayhem and death outstripped tactics based on older weaponry. In World War I, No-Man's-Land was full of the dead, and since the battles were relatively static, there was no way to retrieve the dead and bury them properly. And even if they had, the battle just came back that way again. Responsible for finding as many of the lost dead as possible is Major Delaplane (Philippe Noiret), who served throughout the First World War and continues to serve France in the best way he can. It is 1920, and the official stance of the country involves putting the war as far behind it as possible. However, Major Delaplace has calculated that there are 349,771 soldiers missing. He wishes to find as many of them as possible and give their families, if not the body to bury, the certainty of their loved one's fate. Irène de Courtil (Sabine Azéma) is searching for her lost husband, who was heir to a large manufacturing concern. Her father-in-law is putting considerable pressure on the major, having decided that his son is the most important of the missing. Though the widow is the one doing the searching. Far, far lower on the social spectrum is Alice (Pascale Vignal), whose fiancé is also among the lost. Both women enter the major's life when a tunnel, collapsed by German bombs, is discovered to have a train full of corpses in it. There are several unnecessary subplots, not least of which is a discovery the major makes about the two missing men. However, the film succeeds in projecting an air of the futility of Major Delaplace's mission. The government wants him to provide an unknown soldier from his district to put in a memorial at the Arc de Triomphe, and they are not interested in his insistence that he might actually be able to identify all the soldiers, given enough time and help. A sculptor declares that even bad artists have plenty of work now, because every town puts up a memorial. Indeed, two men want a district line redrawn because all seventeen of the men they sent to war survived, and there's a farm where two people went to war and didn't come back which might be included in their district, which would give them war dead. And increase the funding they get from the government. The other town won't miss having that farm in its district anyway, because they already have over thirty dead. And already, there is talk of the next war. Of course there will be a next war. Even to Madame de Courtil, the dead are becoming little more than symbols. Her father-in-law apparently wants his son marked as officially dead because having a son killed in the war will do good things for his company. (I believe there is some talk of profiteering to be overcome.) The two men from that little town are ordering a war memorial even before they've had districting lines redrawn to give them war dead. Major Delaplane quotes a general as saying, "The war's devastating allure only appears to be destructive." Whereas local farmers are still (and I believe this is true even now, nearly a hundred years later) digging armaments out of their fields. Having an unknown soldier to bury is more important than returning a known soldier to his family. And the major's little squad of men seems far too small to search for over a quarter of a million men in a country, well, the size of France. Madame de Courtil says at one point that she'd wanted her husband to go to war in the hope that he would come back different. Instead, he did not come back at all. Millions of men did not. It is only this knowledge which stands out about this film. We are not glorifying the war; it was brutal and disgusting, and men died needlessly. We are not even glorifying the war dead; they were just human. This may be why we find out what we do about Madame de Courtil's husband and Alice's fiancé. These people had secrets, and not all of them were good people. And even among the dead, having money and influence can make you more important than everyone else. The film only gives us a brief glimpse of the maimed in body and spirit, but their presence hangs in the background as another possible outcome. Probably a worse one, so far as Major Delaplane is concerned. The performances are almost weary most of the time, people who keep thinking they have seen the worst there is to see only to find out that they're wrong. Then again, it's difficult to make a really cheerful, positive movie about World War I. This is probably why so few movies are made about it at all. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/12/23 Full Review Audience Member "vous avez peur des femmes de leur ventre de leur courage de leur regard...dites moi seulement trois mot et je serais a vous" la vie et rien d'autre est une Longue romance, d'un commandant solitaire et d'une jolie veuve a la recherche de son maris perdu au suite de la première guerre mondial. Tres touchante et agrà (C)ablement filme avec un haut niveau d'esthà (C)tisme cette histoire touche son sujet et se laisse regarder agrà (C)ablement jusqu'à la fin.C'est un beau film. Et pourtant,malgrà (C) sa qualità (C) il manque de profondeur et de force ayant comme du mal a choisir entre son cote contemplatif et la profondeur des sentiments. Cette dualità (C) ressenti donne l'impression d'un film superficiel quoique très beau dans sa rà (C)alisation son jeu d'acteur et ca cinà (C)matographie.L'à (C)motion et l emballement voulu n est pas pleinement atteinte.L'utilisation du cotes stoïciens des personnages en comparaison a la passion profonde qu'ils ressentent est malgrà (C) une fin de toute beautà (C) mitige et il serais faux de nier cette rà (C)alità (C) .D'autre part malgrà (C) quelque très bon moment le scenario reste inà (C)gale très bon a certain moment et très faible a d'autre,l'histoire en faite ne vas pas assez loin,et il est probable que l'ambivalence du film et la difficultà (C) du grand tavernier a saisir pleinement l histoire vienne de la.C'est pourquoi malgrà (C) sa rà (C)elle qualità (C) ce film très beau risque de reste un film de passionne et de romantique avant tout.Je complèterais seulement en disant que Bertrand tavernier rà (C)ussi une belle rà (C)alisation et cinà (C)matographie de façons gà (C)nà (C)ral et même très artistique et si vous êtes un fan de belle histoire d'amour passionne et de cinà (C)ma d'auteur vous saurez apprà (C)ciez ,pour les autres le film risque d'être très ennuyant ou très peu intà (C)ressant. un autre point positif le film dà (C)crit superbement bien la fin et les consà (C)quence de la grande guerre. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/25/23 Full Review Audience Member Apparently it's Philippe Noiret day. How has it taken me so long to watch this? Good interview with Noiret and Tavernier in the dvd extras. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/24/23 Full Review Audience Member Mar 09 - I enjoyed many of the sequences, dialogues and the main character but I admit I did not understand it for the most part. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/12/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Life and Nothing But

My Rating


Cast & Crew

Movie Info

Synopsis At the end of World War I, Major Delaplane (Philippe Noiret) has a grim assignment ahead of him -- he must count the corpses left on the battlefields and determine their identities. While in the process of doing his duty, Delaphane meets Irene (Sabine Azéma), whose husband is believed to be among the dead. Slowly, Delaplane begins to fall for her, but this burgeoning romance becomes more complicated when the major receives word that Irene's husband may still be alive.
Bertrand Tavernier
Bertrand Tavernier, Jean Cosmos
Production Co
Little Bear [fr], Films A2, Hachette Première
Original Language
French (France)
Release Date (Streaming)
Mar 3, 2016
Box Office (Gross USA)
2h 14m