L’Amour par terre (1984)

9 06 2008

An upgrade from Va savoir and La Belle Noiseuse but some problems still remain. I suppose the whole theater production narrative can excuse the film’s overly-talkative nature. Whatever the case, I still think Rivette manages to make the film extremely interesting in spite of the fact that the whole concept is anything but. I can see how someone would see this as a predecessor to Mulholland Drive since there’s also some goofy surreal mystery sensibility going on here. It’s that particular feeling that makes me resist calling this a masterpiece.

Emily and Charlotte are performing a play inside of an apartment complex. Afterwards, a man named Clement invites them and the play’s director, Silvano, to a special audition. They all wind up in a mysterious mansion accompanied by odd personas such as Paul and Elanore. Clement immediately makes his intentions clear: he wants Emily and Charlotte to participate in a new play that will take place within his mansion. The catch is that the play must be ready to be performed in front of the public by the end of the week. Everyone dives into the production head-first, but Emily and Charlotte can’t help but be bothered my the oddities within the house.

While Rivette’s film is far from being a candidate for the “haunted house” genre, it does have a rather silly narrative lining. There’s plenty of relationship-driven drama but there’s also just as much over-the-top David Lynch-esque surreal mystery bullshit. This stuff is pretty annoying, but Rivette handles it just about as well as Jean-Paul Civeyrac does in his recent films, if not better. Thankfully, the film is never confined to this sensibility and it does a very good job of offering plenty of more naturalistic touches.

As already mentioned there is plenty of relationship type stuff for the film to live on. Perhaps this more to the credit of the actors than it is to the screenplay. Jane Birkin, as always is captivating, fantastic, and so on. Geraldine Chaplin is similarly exciting to watch. Considering the rather subpar content that they are given to work with, they both come up with wonderful and complimentary performances. Despite the fact that the narrative is completely uninteresting, the film itself goes by rather quickly. When one takes into account the fact that this an almost three hour long movie with constant talking, it is quite remarkable that it feels rather short. This is not my “type” of film per se, but it is executed in an undeniably fascinating way.

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