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If you want a life in film, you need to immerse yourself in a bunch of
films. The first threshold of discovery is knowing what to collect in
terms of experience. Surely there are important films and filmmakers to
touch. Beyond that you need saturation in some pockets.
I suppose for some folks that saturation will be in Hollywood Noir or French New Wave. One of my immersive pockets is early thirties mysteries, and I've avoided most of the French players of the period when they thought they were important. But from time to time, some small thing comes out of hiding and surprises you doesn't it?
This is one of those for me. I will describe the content a bit though I hate to do it. But you will probably not see it.
Two girls meet accidentally at the station as they come from their oppositely remote small villages. It seems they have patterned themselves against the same model as they are identical in every respect that they can be. They become roommates and go to collage, eventually studying film because it is easy. What follows are episodes, all reflective in some way on the nature of film, either explicitly or as a matter of how life is patterned by film. Eric Rohmer plays a role.
What sets this apart from other new wave projects of the era is that it sits in its deep selfreference without taking itself seriously.
As it happens, the identities of these girls drift apart in terms of appearance, manner, values and place in film. Its no less consequential than others of its ilk, but seems more fun in being consciously trivial.
One episode, for instance has our girls doing a survey of the three best filmmakers. One Frenchman answers: Welles, Hitchcock and Jerry Lewis. Another querent gives the same answer for who are the three worst filmmakers. The joke is that he is a ten year old boy. Worse, pulls out a list with ALL filmmakers ranked in order and he tells precisely that those three are numbers 281, 282, and 283!
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Still living to this day, Moullet was not taken seriously for a long
time. Well, he should. The satire is only apparent, the apparent lack
of sensitivity downplays the impression "we've seen this before". Alas,
Take this seriously or not- and it's Moullet's touch not to try to make us take it seriously- but a lot is said about the history of France, from country to town and the way back, about interactions between people, about what makes everyone lonely and what makes them join a club.
Hence the title, one would expect both actresses to be very different one from the other, at least physically. It doesn't really happen, save it for the voices. Hilarious scenes succeed- that cinema-scene-with- chimpanzee-noises, the 16 yr old apprentice memorizing the girls' exercises themselves cannot understand, the janitor yelling "You Brechtians!". It's not slapstick comedy, and it has nothing to do with most comedies of the era. The humor here is much more nonsensical, tenderly anarchist. Don't expect cows to deliver any milk here, or hens to lay eggs; nature is as insensitive as humans can sometimes be. The egocentric tone of the film slowly disrupts in a "no way" kind of values, so it's really important that the film has no opening or closing credits, that the set is (obviously) the same in many sequences (the dance hall, the cinema, even the Sorbonne). The sound is very realistic- it's really Paris.
One last words about actors: they're all killers. The two Brigittes are really very good, Melki is as sober in his "nice guy" character as he'll be playing the fool in Pollet's movies (for example). Cameos are as convincing. Chabrol plays a cousin (not an uncle, mind you) in reference to his movie of the same name, Rohmer is "the teacher" (Chabrol's nickname of his), Téchiné a devoted Ludwich fan wishing to die during a theatrical broadcast.
One pretentious filmmaker would have ruined the whole thing. Moullet's abrupt philosophy and the brilliant cinematography help us get along. A masterpiece. Some kind of therapy perhaps.
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