(Phillipe Garrel; France/ Italy/ Switzerland; 2011)
(In order to review films seen at MIFF 2012 at a faster pace, I now endeavour to keep the word limit to 200 words or less. This limitation has been imposed by my beloved wife, who is wonderfully adept at drafting domestic legislation that enables me to actually get some semblance of sleep at a normal hour, as opposed to staying up half the night, falling asleep at my computer, and writing drivel).
Ah, Garrel. Surely it would be easiest to review a Garrel film by just writing ‘Garrel’ 200 or so times.
I have yet to work out why Garrel’s films appeal. His films seem occasionally morose, the characters sometimes need a good slap, the pace can veer towards lethargy. Yet everything works, it all hangs together perfectly. Garrel has spent a lifetime mapping relationships as they change, disintegrate, and bend over time, and he does not waver from this obsession in this film.
Usually the focus is on one sole couple, but this time he adds a second couple. An artist befriends a struggling actor, and when the artist and his actress wife move to Rome, the actor and his girlfriend move in with them and become observers to a falling apart of the marriage and the gradual disintegration of the artist. The reason for the marriage breakdown is introduced piece by piece, gently stirred into the froth of the film, and it all seems to hinge on one seemingly innocent yet intensely electric dance scene between the artist’s wife and her film director. This scene alone epitomises Garrel, mixing spontaneity, dynamism, and some kind of sublime, elemental zest.