Monday, April 30, 2007

L'Amour Fou (1968, Jacques Rivette)

One of the things I love most about Rivette, especially in his early work, is the way he was so willing to let the seams show. Consider how he uses 16mm and 35mm footage in this one- he doesn't try to smooth out the 16mm grain to make it look more like 35, and when he cuts back and forth between the two, the quality of the sound changes as does the aspect ratio. In addition, the soundtrack itself contrasts with more conventional films, full of half-heard dialogue and incidental noises that occasionally overpower the stuff we're "supposed" to hear- think the Coke bottles being set down on the rehearsal table with a bang. All of which I guess is a roundabout way of saying that part of what makes Rivette fascinating is that he keeps the spontaneous on-the-fly stuff in here, rather than smoothing out all the rough edges, which makes his work jarring in the best of ways. L'AMOUR FOU is not a film that one can watch complacently, settling into a comfortable moviegoing experience. The film can't even be boiled down to a synopsis, or even a thematic through-line- for a while it looks like it'll turn into a May '68-era meditation on the limits of freedom and the consequences of trying for it- but the characters and Rivette's style are much too prickly for that. Rating: ****.

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