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The Lovers on the Bridge
The Lovers on the Bridge
Actors: Juliette Binoche, Denis Lavant, Daniel Buain, Klaus-Michael Grüber, Marion Stalens
Director: Leos Carax
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2004     2hr 5min

Martin Scorsese presents Academy Award(R)-winning star Juliette Binoche (Best Supporting Actress 1997, THE ENGLISH PATIENT, CHOCOLAT) in a uniquely uplifting story of two misfits who risk everything for love! A homeless ar...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Juliette Binoche, Denis Lavant, Daniel Buain, Klaus-Michael Grüber, Marion Stalens
Director: Leos Carax
Creators: Jean-Yves Escoffier, Leos Carax, Alain Dahan, Albert Prévost, Bernard Artigues, Christian Fechner, Hervé Truffaut
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: Miramax
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/13/2004
Original Release Date: 07/02/1999
Theatrical Release Date: 07/02/1999
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 5min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 16
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A film that puts a face on the homeless
J. lopez | Buffaloro | 08/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Lovers on the Bridge is an intensely disturbing but ultimately life affirming film about a young woman artist named Michele,who after being jilted by her Lover decides to take to the street and live as a vagabond.She eventually takes up residence,with her cat Louisiana,on a bridge in Paris over the Seine river that's closed for repairs.She meets a young homeless man named Alex who has been on the street,the bridge in particular,much longer than Michele.He's lonely and he falls for her instantly.She's terrified of intimacy after what happened with her former Lover.To complicate matters,she has a rare eye disease that is destroying her eyesight.Binoche is totally convincing in her role.She conveys intelligence and an ethereal quality,you wonder how she could have come into this situation.It's easily an Oscar caliber performance.You wonder if she actually did live on the street during production.Denis Lavant as Alex,an insecure,shy,but ever hopeful street performer is just as effective as Binoche.You can feel his pain and frustration just by watching the expressions on his face.In spite of the situation he's in,he still inspires hope.The Director takes great care with the subject matter.He handles the issue of homelessness with compassion,respect,and affection.He wisely remains objective and allows the viewer to simply watch Michele and Alex's relationship develop.He never attempts to get you to pity or feel sorry for them.My only complaint with the story is that we never learn enough about Alex's past.How he reached this point and why.Filled with lush cinematography(the streets of Paris,the Seine river,some classic art work),an honest portrayal of the homeless,terrific performances by a talented cast,and some mesmerizing visuals(a fireworks display,water skiing on the Seine,Alex as a human flamethrower),Lovers on the Bridge is a film well worth your time."
A modern Fairytale
diarmuidohanlon | NY USA | 07/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After Leos Carax's 1986 film Mauvais Sang (come on Miramax release it!) Juliette Binoche begged her then lover and director to never film her as a madonna again, and so the seeds for Les Amants du Pont Neuf were sown. Mauvais Sang features a luminous and fetishised Juliette Binoche as a mask like presence, with no physicallity. This was carried thorough to the wonderful The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but Carax exploded the image in his film. The story is simple, two down and outs meet fall in love, yet despite the harsh realities of life, and love, on the streets they live out an exciting and romantic (in all the senses of the word) existance. This movie is relevant for its amazing visual and tour de force performances. Binoche is simply standout, she seems to live the role, something she later admitted deeply disturbed her. The film is fabulously directed from the grainy opening sequence to the amazing fireworks scene and the exilirating conclusion. The film is littered with cinematic allusions from truffauts Les Quatre cents Coups, to L'Atlante. In terms of context the film is amazing because it juxtaposes harsh realities, the opening sequence and fairytale like fantasy. We are led to question what is actually real, from Binoche apparerntly committing murder to the street littered with gigantic litter. In the end Les Amants du Pont Neuf is a film which needs multiple viewing and some explaining or knowledge of French New Wave cinema to be wholly comprehended, yet it is cwertainly accessible for the majority of casual cinema goers! The film, as I always predicted, is only now beginning to get the recognition it trully deserves. Binoche has avoided this type of movie since, although Michael Hanekes wonderful Code Unknown, though on a smaller and more subjued canvas, has many similarities. Roll on the US release of that one too. And Miramax, its about time you beagan releaseing this type of movie on DVD, youre beginning to lag behind the other companies such as Fox Lorber and Criterion!"
The Scent of Heartbreak
David S. Jenkins | On the Road | 03/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Proof positive that the French function on an entirely different intellectual plane that their American counterparts. It's sometimes hard to believe that our two cultures inhabit the same planet. Imagine if your only island of sanity and security was an endangered bridge in the midst of one of the world's most exquisite cities. Imagine yourself without love or hope in the center of the most romantic of capitals. Imagine the moist chill as you awaken, hung over, under a sheet of plastic and litter, knowing your day holds nothing but the need to beg and steal to survive, devoid of any hope for salvation. And then imagine it all somehow turning towards a warmer sun... at least for the moment... after a crime you may or may not have committed. Think and feel what that moment would taste like. Binoche is captivating, riveting in a performance of courage and risk, an extraordinary actress by any measure. Paris has never seemed more beautiful, especially when devoid of human traffic in the hours where those from the other side of life wander its streets. An incredible film, and for anyone who has known heartbreak, a work that will imprint itself on your heart."
Crazed and self-destructive.
Angry Mofo | 09/01/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

""Lovers On The Bridge" is notorious, but not very popular. It caused a big scandal in France, not because of its content, but because of the caprices of its director Leos Carax. Much of the film takes place on the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris, and Carax demanded to be allowed to film right on the bridge. So, the bridge was closed off just for him, and even then he couldn't finish filming. After he was kicked out, he built a life-size model of the bridge and part of its surroundings, somewhere in the countryside, and tried to finish filming there. Even then he went over budget three times, thus causing three separate producers to go bankrupt.

The film was a complete failure, commercially. Critics thought it was too long and too self-important. The public just didn't bother to see it. As a result, Carax's career was basically over by 1992. Since then he's only made one film, "Pola X" in 1999. (There's word that he's making another one right now, though.)

What is "Lovers On The Bridge" about? It stars Carax's favourite actor Denis Lavant as Alex, a bum who lives on the Pont-Neuf. Sometimes he puts on a fire-eating act to entertain passersby on the street. The rest of the time, he gets drunk. He's also addicted to pills of some kind.

One day, a woman shows up on the bridge. She doesn't talk about her past, but Alex finds out that she comes from a rich family. She was abandoned by her rich boyfriend, and she has a problem with her eyesight which will eventually make her blind. Because of these problems, she decides to run away from home and go slumming on the Pont-Neuf.

Naturally, Alex falls madly in love with her. They cavort on the bridge together and steal money from rich tourists. Then of course they're separated. Alex does a whole bunch of desperate and stupid things and loses his will to live. Maybe you can guess whether or not they're reunited in the end.

Carax's underlying worldview in this film is exactly the same as in his two earlier films, "Boy Meets Girl" and "Bad Blood." He believes in a thing called love, you see. But his idea of love has a lot of narcissism in it. His lovers are hopelessly self-absorbed. They can never have any kind of normal life together, simply because they would be unable to support each other. They can get drunk together, but they can't feel so much compassion or empathy. Alex, in particular, is a psychopath. He tries to prevent the woman from curing her eye problem, because he doesn't want her to leave the bridge.

And Carax also believes that the sensory impact of a film is more important than the logic of its narrative. So, this film contains many vivid, visually brilliant scenes that don't make much sense if you think about them. For example, Carax thinks that guns are romantic, so he puts a gun into the film and uses it in a long dream sequence. The sequence doesn't have much bearing on the plot, and actually it makes his heroine look cold and vicious, but it's exciting to watch.

The greatest scene of this sort is the one where the lovers celebrate Bastille Day by screaming and doing cartwheels on the bridge, to a deafening medley of classical, rock and rap music. The content of the scene has no meaning. But the effect is ecstatic. And in a way, it really captures a youthful feeling of falling in love.

If Carax's worldview doesn't appeal to you, then you'll probably agree with the critics who savaged the film. They have a point. But still, "Lovers On The Bridge" is Carax's best film.

First of all, he has a much stronger script than before. His two earlier films are full of long, artificial monologues, which are recited into space by the characters. But here, the dialogue is much more terse. Alex doesn't say much at all, and this is very appropriate to his character.

Second, Carax paid attention to the setting of his story. The plot might not be very believable. Of course that's the point. Carax wants to overwhelm the emotions by any means necessary. But nonetheless, the opening of the film just shows a few scenes taken at a homeless shelter in Paris. They are unrelated to the plot, and the main characters don't appear in them. But they make a very strong impression. Carax shows the bad conditions in which his characters live, without making anything up. Somehow, this realistic introduction makes the rest of the film much more convincing.

Third, the romance is just a little bit more subtle than in Carax's earlier films. In "Bad Blood," for instance, it was hard to see why Julie Delpy loved Denis Lavant so much, since his character there was basically the same as here. But here, Carax implies that the heroine isn't quite in love with Alex. Or rather, she is, but only up to a point. She loves him while she's slumming on the bridge, but she doesn't want to take him with her when she leaves. She shows no concern for him when he suffers the most from her absence. She does remember him later, but she only wants to see him on her own terms. In other words, she's like him. That's not very nice, and in fact the main characters of this film are not nice people, but it's believable at least. It's also hard to see why she went down to the bridge in the first place, if she's like that, but that's not really the point. Carax needs the bridge because it allows him to make his grand spectacles.

I honestly don't know if I'd recommend this film. It's alternately unpleasant and thrilling. But it is Carax's best film. There's nothing else that's quite like that."