The nonpareil of free association film making
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Claire Denis has demonstrated repeatedly that film does not need to tell a story, that it is sufficient to create an experience that allows the viewer to take the ingredients and make of them what they will.
Ostensibly the idea within the framework of a most non-linear film is the older man living on the French-Swiss border, a man devoted to his dogs, who still has a lover, but whose cardiac status increasingly threatens his life. He has a son with a little family who infrequently meet with him, but when he discovers he is in need of a heart transplant he opts for going to Tahiti via Japan to obtain a heart transplant on the black market and to rekindle a long lost relationship with a son he had form a Tahitian women years ago.
What Denis does with this outline of a story is use her camera to explore the loneliness of the soul, the vastness of nature, man's interaction with people vs animals, etc. Much of the time the 'film' doesn't make sense, but that is because we try too hard to connect all the dots laid out before us in beautiful pictures. Life is sort of like that: we look, see, observe, integrate, process, and make of it what we will.
In using this form of film making (much as she did in the strangely beautiful 'Beau Travail') Claire Denis has developed a signature technique. Whether or not the viewer finds the finished product rewarding has much to do with our individual methods of processing visual and conceptual information. This is an interesting and visually captivating film, but many viewers will find it an overly long discourse about very little. Perhaps watching again will change that. Grady Harp, May 06"
A Brilliant Masterpiece
Stephen Poissant | Royal Oak, Mi | 05/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Claire Denis has done the unthinkable and topped her previous masterpiece, Beau Travail, with this marvelously elliptical and oneiric film. This is a film that you feel, a deeply challenging and ultimately incredibly rewarding cinematic experience. It also features quite possibly the greatest title sequence ever put on film. A must watch for anyone who wants to be rewarded for their viewing efforts."
kebec1 | Boston MA US | 12/01/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Horrible film! Disjointed, incomprehensible. I have no idea who people were, what they were doing and saying, or why. Worse, the main character is as flat, mute and unsympathetic at the end as at the beginning. Who was his son? Who got killed at the beginning of the film and why? Forget it, I don't care. I process fictional films as stories, and, for me, if there's no story, there's no film... Beautiful cinematography though.
And why not do something interesting with Beatrice Dalle if you're going to have her in the film?"
Give it time.
D.H. | 03/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The comments referring to the film's disjointedness or "free" structure are well-intended, and accurate. I have now watched this film twice, the first a few years ago when it was first released. My reaction at the time was comparable to some of the comments posted here. Namely, the film was far too abstract or incoherent for any potential benefit to become fully or even partially realized. I have now seen it twice and am deeply thankful I have. Perhaps I could attribute my change in opinion to my now subdued expectations (promises of it being the 'best film of the year' were perhaps a touch too assured), or otherwise to a differentiated view on life (something subdued, nostalgic, fleeting).
This said, I would recommend this film for anyone who is prepared, because one has to be, and patient enough to give it a chance. It will not 'reveal' itself, if films have this intention, upon one viewing. There is no traditional narrative structure to speak of, nor any 'well-defined' characters to which we may compare these. On the contrary, the people and their circumstances are hardly explained, and in this way it will not represent the cinema most of us have become accustomed to. Neither does it suggest an attempt to paint in 'realist' tones. There was no artifice to it, something I appreciated in my first (dissatisfied) viewing as well.
The film, even after numerous viewings (I am certain) will not lend itself to any subscription. This is, for me, where I find its value. Claire Denis did not have to make a heavy try to convince me, after a second viewing, that a richer film does not presuppose a 'fuller' (more textured or structured) form.
I hope this helps."