A Celebration of Cinema!
D. O. Hanlon | Dublin, Ireland | 10/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Leos Carax's 1986 film "Mauvais Sang" was only the directors second. Yet it immediately confirmed his status as the inheritor of the New Wave legacy. The film is above all a celebration of cinema and all things cinematic (including the entrancing Juliette Binoche's flawless face).The plot of the film is slight and inconsequential, concerning the heist of a serum that cures STBO an Aids like virus which effects people who "make love without being in love". Piccoli plays Marc the gang leader who enlists the quick fingered Alex (Lavant) to break into the Darley-Wilkinson building and steal the serum. Matters are complicated when Alex falls in love with Anna, Marc's vastly younger girlfriend Anna (Binoche).Carax's film is a visual tour de force. His main concern in "Mauvais Sang" is a celebration of cinema. The film constantly alludes to Godard (Binoche is a dead ringer for Anna Karina in this role ), to Chaplin (Lavant's clown like movements) and to film Noir in genereal through the use of music and the presence of Piccoli.A previous review likens the film to "Amelie". However barring a resemblance between Binoche and the cookier and altogether more cartoonish Audrey Tautou these likenesses are unfounded. Unlike the entertainment based Amelie, "Mauvais Sang" aspires to the art of cinema itself as a visual medium.The visuals by the late, great Jean Yves Esscoffier, as stated constantlty allude to Godard's 1960's masterpieces (the use of extreme close ups and primary colours, and have been repeated since in more mainstream fare such as "The Professional" ("Leon" in Europe)."Mauvais Sang" was a cult hit and winner of the prestigious Louis Delluc Prize in 1986. It paved the way for Carax's more ambitious 1991 stunner "Les Amants du Pont Neuf" and was the first film where Juliette Binoche's face (now an important cinematic institution) was used as a visual reference.Mauvais Sang is a difficult, at times exasperating film, but it is also sublime and rewarding..."
The icon of the European cinema of the 80th
Serge Fenenko | Utrecht, Netherlands | 10/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You will remember Mauvais Sang because of:
- its unique & very recognizable director's style;
- visual experiments that have broadened the cinema art horizon (please don't forget that this film was released in 1986 and was copied since then in many other films and videos, which makes it less experimental nowadays);
- high energy level due to variation in static close-ups and dynamic scenes shot by the moving camera;
- love story that touches but stays far away from clichés;
- plot that plays with stereotypes of a gangster film and leaves enough space for your imagination.
My favourite scene is Denis Lavant running through the night Paris on the David Bowie's "Modern Love". Feel the energy and watch the poetry!"
Enjoyable, nonsensical, selfish romanticism.
Angry Mofo | 12/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There's no way to make sense of "Bad Blood." Leos Carax's second and most successful film is basically a sequence of cinematic devices taken from French noir and gangster films. Plot is irrelevant.
If you read a summary of the film before you see it, you will most likely believe that the film is about an epidemic of a fictional disease, which is spread when two sexual partners don't truly love each other. In reality, the disease is briefly mentioned in the film, and sets up a certain plot point, but that's all. It does not figure in the dialogue beyond a couple of lines. It's a plot device, used once and then forgotten. And most of the film is like that.
What is the film about? Well, there's this surly young man named Alex, and a very pretty girl who is inexplicably in love with him. But Alex loves this other girl (also pretty), you see, so he runs away to pursue her. But the second girl hangs out with two cool old gangsters who for some reason are in trouble with their crime syndicate. Then there's a whole bunch of plot devices that don't really matter, and guns and a car chase.
So it's an action movie, then? Well, no. Actually, the film moves slowly, in the style of classic French noir. Like in "Breathless" or "Bob Le Flambeur" (both of which Carax must have watched a thousand times), there's a long build-up to a violent, but very short denouement which happens kind of arbitrarily. Action is irrelevant.
Then what is the film about? Well, mostly it's about the faces of the actors. Most of the film takes place in the cool old gangsters' hideout where Alex likes to hang out. He sits around feeling totally bummed, because the second pretty girl is already in love with one of the cool old gangsters. Carax's camera shows his surly face, and the girl's pretty face, and the gangsters' faces. The characters engage in conversation, but conversation, like plot, is irrelevant. The dialogue is more like a combination of monologues, long, wordy, and vague. Everybody gazes vacantly into space and talks, seemingly to themselves. Carax hadn't yet discovered the terse style he would use for the dialogue in his third and most famous film, "Lovers On The Bridge."
Realism is irrelevant. But that's what Carax's films are like. They are about sensation, not content. So, at one point, Alex runs down the street, jumping and performing cartwheels, while the camera follows and a David Bowie song plays in the background. Why does he do this? Who cares? The exuberance of the moment is all that matters. Same with the guns and car chases. Carax wants to raise the viewer's adrenaline through motion or suspense. He makes up the story as he goes along.
And he concentrates on the faces, which are the only reason to watch this film. Despite the bad writing and the incoherence of the plot, Carax picked actors with expressive faces. The cool old gangsters look experienced and understanding. They've seen it all. They can relax when they plan a heist, because they know how everything works. One is a stern father-figure type, the other is like the laid-back, patient uncle. It's easy to like them.
The girls are also great. Of all Carax's films, this one is the most sympathetic towards its women. In Carax's first film "Boy Meets Girl," and likewise in "Lovers On The Bridge," the heroine is cold and self-absorbed. Here, there are two leading ladies, and both are warm and feminine, even though Juliette Binoche has a trendy androgynous haircut. Julie Delpy is particularly selfless and heroic as Alex's girlfriend. Her most heroic act is to love such a narcissistic, distant man.
Alex is the only unpleasant character. All of Carax's protagonists are like this. They don't care about their own lives or the lives of others. Nothing interests them other than their own emotions, which they dwell on forever. Alex is equally ready to kill himself or somebody else, in both cases without cause. Even his love for Juliette Binoche is really a kind of self-obsession. It would be nice to ignore him, but he epitomizes Carax's main themes: youthful emotion, sensation, irrationality, and egoism. He is the point, and you can't get past him.
But Carax's style has considerably improved here over "Boy Meets Girl." The film is in lush, heavy colour. The camera moves more, and Carax modifies Godard's famous jump cuts into something that might be called the Carax cut, when the screen suddenly goes black for a second, and then cuts back to the same shot as before. It's a strange, fragmented technique.
And as I said, other than Alex, the characters are more likeable than in Carax's other films. That might make "Bad Blood" the most enjoyable of them all, although I think "Lovers On The Bridge" is objectively better. But even so, "Bad Blood" is an acquired taste.
Carax's style is very artificial, but it completely lacks irony. His films are very serious. Carax reveres Godard, but they're nothing alike. Even Alex's narcissism is driven by a kind of conviction. He doesn't just want to feel pleasure, he wants and believes in some kind of abstract grand destiny. It can be said that a similar conviction destroyed Carax's career. He could easily have become a hip, popular director of youth-culture films, if he had only toned down his irrationality in favour of self-aware irony and cynicism. Instead, he went to greater extremes with each film, and finally bankrupted three producers with "Lovers On The Bridge," a complete commercial failure. Then he practically disappeared. Thus, his films may be hard to sympathize with, but they inspire a kind of respect for their director."
Gorgeous and rewarding
alchea | hills+water | 11/08/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...An incredibly moving film, focusing on slight movements and glances to convey the most complicated human emotions. Beautiful camerawork and pacing. Love, instead of theft, as the "heist" of the film.
One of the best films I've seen."