In the seacoast town of Boulogne, Hélène sells antique furniture, living with her step-son, Bernard, who's back from military duty in Algiers. An old lover of Hélène's comes to visit - ... See full summary »
In the seacoast town of Boulogne, Hélène sells antique furniture, living with her step-son, Bernard, who's back from military duty in Algiers. An old lover of Hélène's comes to visit - Alphonse - with his niece Françoise; he too is back from Algiers, where he ran a café. Bernard speaks of his fiancée, Muriel, whom Hélène has not met. The narrative, like memory and intention, is jumpy, the past obscured by guilt, misperceptions, and missed possibilities. Appearances deceive, things change. As Hélène and Alphonse try to sort out a renewal, everyone seems off-kilter just enough to hint that all cannot end well. Can anyone know another? Written by
not for the casual DVD renter. Muriel is *not* entertainment but a film that demands that we endure its theatricality and embalmed atmosphere in order to reflect, along with Resnais, about various kinds of unbearable pasts, personal and national. The city of Boulogne is itself a character in Muriel, rebuilt and unrecognizable after the bombings of World War II...Helene (Delphine Seyrig) is an antique dealer whose home is her gallery--so she lives in a jumble of distant French pasts all the better to avoid her own. The "home movie" sequence is one of the few in French cinema of the 60s where the Algerian War is figured--but here, we see happy soldiers hanging out, images to send home (and to French TV), while the voice-over (Helene's stepson) recounts the rape and torture of the Algerian woman named in the title. Daring, in light of French censorship of any text that compromised state security during the "Algerian situation." Muriel will leave you with more questions than resolutions.
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