Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976)

22 11 2008

So it seems it was a pretty big mistake on my part to make Middle of the World my first Tanner film. While I definitely enjoyed the unrushed, gentle character study element of that film, this one is a much more accurate example of what I expected from Tanner. This is not completely unlike Godard’s films from the 1970s, but with a much more natural and less political stance. There are still plenty of sequences of characters talking about big issues in a far too eloquent manner, but Tanner meshes it into a very natural story revolving around several young adults facing a series of emotional and social obstacles.

It is sort of ironic that the Middle of the World (the only other Tanner film I’ve seen) seems to be a very obvious attempt at creating a very intimate type of cinema, in which the focus lies solely on two lovers. The scope here is the exact opposite and revolves around eight people that face a series of events that, in retrospect, are rather undramatic. Even though Tanner’s other film is very simplistic in its setup, it does have a very emotionally obvious drive to it, but this film, on the other hand, is more bizarre than anything. The first comparison that popped into my head was Rivette, especially his films from the exact same time period, but I don’t want to sell Tanner’s formally unique presentation short.

Tanner’s visuals are, unfortunately, still on the rather dull side of things, but he certainly tries to avoid this. In all honesty, it may just be the state that the film itself is physically in that prevents it from being visually appealing. Actually, the occasional black and white cinematography looks fantastic and blends together seamlessly with Tanner’s use of old riot footage and still photographs. Such elements aren’t really necessary or make sense in this case, but I really like them anyway. They don’t spark the same type of poignancy as the similar flourishes in Gummo, regardless, they are nice additions.

The acting in a film like this needs to be pretty great, and it is. Tanner seems to have an extremely close relationship with his performers, which is another thing that reminds me of Rivette. The scene where Marie reacts a knifefight with her father that he participated in many years ago is right out of Rivette’s playbook. The dinner conversations, in which the subjects range from how ticks are born to what recession is, are playfully executed but with an indescribable sense of realism. Again, much like Rivette. The only problem I have here is that the film seems to run out of steam within the final half hour or so. It’s still good at that point, but that’s a downgrade from the completely amazing opening 80 minutes. An incredibly exciting experience in any case. I can’t wait to see more from Tanner.

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4 responses

24 11 2008
Michael Kerpan

I like this quite a bit — but prefer Millieu du monde and Salamandre (I wish the DVD of the latter had English — or even French — subtitles — but I believe it only has German ones).

24 11 2008
Jake Savage

Yeah, I wish Salamandre had English subs. I’d imagine that Tanner and Bulle Ogier would make a great cinematic team.

6 12 2008
Alex

Thank you for this. “Jonas…” is one of my favorite films ever! Will it ever be released on DVD for region 1? I saw the Region 2 DVD on amazon, but it is currently unavailable 😦 My VHS copy is worn out, let me know if you have ideas.

6 12 2008
Alex

In addition, I think that the last 10 minutes of the film, where Matthieu is on the motorbike giving a monologue, is the greatest part of the film. It should have ended when the shot fades out on him as he commutes to work in Geneva. I have also covered the theme song when I play gigs as well.

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