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Senin, 29 November 2010

Jacques Rivette - L'amour Fou (1969)

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dvdbeaver.com wrote:
L'AMOUR FOU is about the rehearsal for a play and the crack-up of a marriage. The central character, Sebastien, is rehearsing a production of Andromaque, by Racine, with his wife Claire playing the leading role. Near the beginning of rehearsals, she leaves the production, pleading claustrophobia at the presence of a television crew filming the proceedings[...] As the rehearsals continue, Claire becomes progressively more paranoid; gratuitously, she sleeps with an ex-lover, while Sebastien is himself unfaithful with an actress from the theatre. Eventually, after a weekend during which Claire and Sebastien, locked in their apartment, engage in an orgy of sex and destruction, she boards a train and leaves him.

moviemartyr.com wrote:
Jacques Rivette’s L’Amour Fou is clearly one of the more superficially challenging films that I’ve seen of late. It’s foreign, four and a half hours long, filmed in black and white on two different stocks (with two different aspect ratios), and has a relatively thin plot. Still, it was one of the best viewing experiences that I’ve had in months. [...]

It follows the dissolution of a marriage between Claire, an actress (brilliantly played by Bulle Ogier), and Sebastien, her director (Jean-Pierre Kalfon). This specificity allows the characters to be developed to an extent that’s almost unparalleled in cinema. Rivette uses the longer running time of the film to establish their relationship’s end as the result of a recurring cycle of self-destructive behavior, and not just the fallout from a nasty squabble. Neither in the duo is any more to blame for the breakup than the other. She realizes he will only respond to her when she acts needy and hurt. He stops responding to her because she acts needy and hurt. Their circular routine of self-destruction is unequivocally mutual. To ask who the instigator is would be as pointless as to ask if the chicken or egg came first. Watching their breakdown is both harrowing and fascinating. The only real question for the audience is how long the two of them will both buy into the illusion that it’s going to work out.

This marital distress plays out over three weeks (shown to us day by day) in which a troupe of actors is preparing a production of Jean Racine’s version of the Greek tragedy Andromaque. Though the large passages of the play that are quoted comment directly upon the real life events around them, it’s not necessary to try to compare the overall framework of the play (in which the widowed Andromaque marries King Pyrrhus to save her son from the Greeks) to that of the film. The rehearsals seem to function more as a way for Rivette to tie this film in with the rest of the French New Wave. Since the auditions are being filmed, the commentary he offers about the function of the director, film, and the audience feels relatively unobtrusive. The crew that is filming the play’s preparations uses a hand-held 16mm camera, which by providing close-ups of the action, seems to feel what Rivette’s more formalistic 35mm compositions seem better at understanding.

What I mean by that statement is that Rivette seems to want the audience to understand the process of these rehearsals, so that we can better understand the function of the director. Sebastien, like the Cahiers crew, is quite concerned with how the audience perceives his profession, and it’s interesting that the documentarians in the film fail to show us as much about the actual process of directing the actors (e.g. the blocking, the realization of the material), since they seem more interested in the dishy such as who’s sleeping with who and whether or not the production is going to be a disaster. Rivette’s camera, which isn’t really “there” seems to have a better understanding, though, so the audience leaves with a solid understanding of this creative progression. The movie's biggest suggestion is that a director really has to work hard to do what he does and his external life is a harmful distraction to his process. This is admittedly somewhat self-serving (in the same way all the New Wave's self awareness is since it’s always making more acutely aware that film has a director), but remains compelling due to its presentation. Overall, the package makes for one of the best French films that I’ve seen. For those that can meet the challenges it poses, it’s highly recommended.

**** Masterpiece







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