Directed by Philippe Garrel (2013)
In stunning b/w cinematography by Willy Kurant, Philippe Garrel directs his son, Louis Garrel as the central character Louis, brewed deep in a slew of jealousies with women characters in his life-his ex, his daughter, his current lover-Claudia (fetching Anna Mouglalis), and his sister (played by Garrel’s real life sister, Esther Garrel). Louis must also confront his own jealousies, which may be more shocking to him than he realized. It is a sensuous, riveting film that cuts right to the emotions at hand, with its opening reminiscent of Carl Dreyer’s Passion de Jeanne D’Arc (1928); the mother of Louis’s child sacrifices her tears over his departure from her. Relationships evolve through shifts in mood, through subtle facial expressions, body language, dialogues-active and receptive, and through their gazes upon each other, or even upon themselves. There is an earthiness to the way the characters relate to each other in very close quarters and extremely intimate spaces, whether tiny hovel apartment, or backstage dressing room. Philosophical counsel is provided by male elders to both Louis and Claudia. Louis’s father tells him that as an actor he may be able to understand fictional characters better than the ones closest to him in his life. He accepts that truth, but is shocked as it plays out. Jealousy is an honest take on this sin/emotion, in all its subtlety, violence and secrets. No visible blood is shed, but wounds abound. In almost no other film do these wounds appear so articulately through the characters faces and gestures. The actors are beautiful to observe; each one a character study in their own right, including the daughter and the sister. Everyone is in their depth here (Louis’s daughter: “Daddy, when will I see you again?”). It is this very accuracy of expression along with Garrel’s sublime aesthetic that makes this film a heavy hitter, not as slight as one might think (it is short in duration). One can sense each of the character’s inner dimensions; their limits, despair, tolerance, and hope. It is a true portrait and cinematic investigation of a cluster/constellation of jealousies. Garrel shows how each one may yet liberate themselves, in their own individual way. A quiet, compelling cinematic portrait of human nature laid bare, exquisitely and economically wrought.