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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Mad love

9/10
Author: Bob Taylor (bob998@sympatico.ca) from Canada
2 February 2016

Yes, on the face of it, four hours spent in the company of stage actors rehearsing a Racine play might seem excessive. After all, how many changes can Rivette ring on a discontented couple who do all sorts of things to hurt each other? How many times can Claire cheat on Sebastien with that weedy fellow, and how many times can Sebastien flirt with the brunette who's going to replace Claire as Andromaque? Whatever the answer, I have to say I find the whole thing fascinating. The film crew sent in to cover the proceedings seems to comment on everything. At times it has the air of a high school dramatic society offering, at other times it's deadly serious.

The performers do everything expected of them. Bulle Ogier became Rivette's favourite actress; she is stunning. Bright, sullen, depressed, elated--she goes through it all. Kalfon appeared in a later film, L'amour par terre, as a playwright. He's all silky assurance until the confused ending. A wonderful experience, a must for Rivette enthusiasts.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Lourd

4/10
Author: Zbigniew_Krycsiwiki from United States
16 April 2015

Strikingly photographed, low key cinema verite, sometimes difused, sometimes harsh, high contrast black and white; it's almost like we're watching a film/ play, *and* a "Making Of" documentary of same, as the drama and dissolution of a marriage unfolds during rehearsals for a theatrical production- but the film goes on for four hours, and little happens, until a 20 minutes long mix of amour et fureur, as the couple take axes and chop down the walls of their apartment, and smash their television set with the same ax, vandalise the walls, and maybe reconcile.

I greatly enjoyed Rivette's later, Out 1, and can see its foundation being layed here in its lengthy runtime, and conversations filmed in mirrors, but I found this film to be quite a chore to endure. I look forward to watching Out 1 again, but can't say I have any interest in watching this again (and I watched it twice already, hoping something would click for me, but no such luck)

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6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

playing at love

10/10
Author: mr_white692
14 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

i would describe this as a doldrummy precursor of Last Tango in Paris. its about the disintegrating (sort-of) relationship of a theatre director-actor (jean-pierre kalfon) and his actress-wife (bulle ogier). its not so overwrought and turbulent as Last Tango in Paris, the people are more quietly anguished, and they only play at being crazy, great lovers. the orgy of sex and destruction at the end of the movie is really rather funny and sweet - they don't kill each other, they just go back to their lives. this is the first (and so far only) movie by jacques Rivette that i have seen. his technique as a director is astonishing. he has a beautiful compositional sense, the movie is incredibly fluid, and obviously got exactly what he wanted from the actors. they all are beautifully unselfconscious, and the two main ones have to do some incredibly difficult things. it's as close to a totally emotionally naked experience i've ever had at a movie, the technique is invisible, although paradoxically when this happens in a movie you know what an extraordinarily difficult thing it is to achieve so you gasp. there are some things in the movie that i don't understand and im afraid will turn out to be terribly pretentious. the movie is four and a half hours long and it spends a great deal of time on the production of Andromache that the husband is staging. is the comparison between the Greek tragedy and their marriage meant to be funny, or what? the movie has no particular story, and while i found it extremely enjoyable, it's sort of a cipher of a movie - is the director just showing us the lives of some people, or is there more at stake? the movie seems to be trying to give the impression that it is a documentary, that what you see is what you get, and rivette is clearly skilled enough for the viewer to accept this illusion. but we know its not a documentary (at least, i think it isn't, i don't know the production history behind the film but rivette is a French new wave director and i know that he likes to experiment with actors, improvisation, etc). i don't generally accept it when people in movies are pinned down into scenes that are meant to have some sort of meaning, but rivette's fake-documentary approach is a little perplexing. you wonder why you're watching certain scenes. its very ponderous.

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4 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

(Yawn)

3/10
Author: cstotlar-1 from United States
28 April 2013

I saw this back when it was released in Paris. In those days I had only begun to watch films seriously so I didn't have much experience concerning when to leave or when I was allowed to get bored. I stayed through the whole thing - all three hours plus - and came out genuinely perplexed. It was a talkathon, no question about that, and at times it seemed to me that the actors were just making things up as they went along, just treading dramatic water as it were. Although not much of anything happened or was even said, the characters discussed the nothingness to the point of madness, I thought. It seemed at the time to be a huge joke on the audience. The director did in fact make a commercially viable film years late with "Celine et Julie...", still quite long - to the point of undermining itself - but not as obnoxiously obsessed with its "meaning" or "significance". There are in fact many good French films out there that aren't endurance contests as I subsequently found out.

Curtis Stotlar

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