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The film is structured as a series of disjointed scenes that gradually reveal a number of loosely connected narrative strands. Perhaps the most affecting strand is the one about Marie, a grocery store checkout girl who gives away as much food as she sells. Although some of her gifts to customers seem arbitrary, she also makes it a point to help elderly people with small pensions. Like several other characters, Marie herself is stuck with a menial job even though she seems to be capable of something more challenging and fulfilling. She even has to live in one country and work in another due to a scarcity of employment. Of course, her behavior is inevitably noticed and it garners her a harsh punishment. The same happens to an honest teacher who attempts to impart lessons about the failings of the capitalist way of life to high school children and (to a lesser degree) to the environmentalists who attempt to run an organic farm.
The technical aspects of the film are fairly well handled, although some of director Alain Tanner's choices were puzzling. He frequently splices in real life footage and he also switches to brief monochrome shots at fairly arbitrary intervals. This seems to have been an attempt to add a Cinéma vérité feel to the venture, but whatever the reason for its implementation, it often falls flat. Still, there are some strangely affecting images here, particularly in the bicycle sequence that incorporates some of the film's only landscape shots to make the human built structures appear forlorn and dingy against the natural backdrop. Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 is captivating but uneven, thought provoking but not profound.
Alain Tanner really created something impressive here. We see how, although they understand that their goals were probably unattainable, they have not abandoned their political views. "JWWB25ITY2000" is what great film-making is all about.
Economy is going to eat itself up until chaos will rule again and nobody has control anymore.
The characters in the film try to change something, but it seems to go nowhere. They have good intentions, but simply lack the power. Just as these characters, we also get suppressed by our government. This film is not just about Switzerland of France. It's about democracy and free market economy. The film can make people realize how hopeless our existence is. How decadent our lives are...
Watching this film certainly isn't a waste of time. If you like your films a little more ambitious, it doesn't fail to entertain. And even if you can't begin "doing" anything with its message, the film is full of interesting facts about society and simply about the way it is.
9/10 for a smart, critical film that is able to change opinions and views.
PS: If you ask yourself whether you should watch it on TV today, or not...DON'T MISS IT! BECOME SOMEONE ELSE!
The film follows eight individuals, whose names all begin with the letter M, who are not happy following the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and seek different ways to express that whether that is in looking to withdraw from society, sabotage it, or develop an alternative. They show a society that puts its foot on your neck if you fail to play along and sleepwalk the path laid out for you through school and the workplace. There's thatch-haired Marie (played by actress Miou-Miou), who performs individual acts of covert defiance at her supermarket job; her boyfriend, Marxist-Leninist teacher Marco, chock-full of enthusiasm and desire to help people be happy and grow; Madeleine who seeks an internal retreat via her interest in Vama Marga tantra; her preferred partner for this "realisation" Max, who performs acts of capital sabotage on a larger level, a disillusioned 1968er, who was in a group but now acts unilaterally; buzzard-headed Mathieu who sets up an alternative school for children and performs menial jobs, perhaps the closest of them to a true proletarian Marxist; his wife Mathilde, a happy mother and lover, compared to a kindly whale; finally their farmhouse hosts, animal-loving biophilosophiser Marcel and his farmer's wife Marguerite, who seems to have a secret life as a prostitute.
The individuals are for revolution but Tanner makes it clear that they're not interested in the authoritarian outcome from the USSR, so archive footage of missile-fetishisation parades are spliced in. The ultimate point is that the chance to change society for the better in 1968 was a once in an era possibility, and that the 70s folk have to wait for future generations to have a chance. The note at the end of the film for me however, sounded pessimistically, we failed to brake what is now a runaway train.
The most beautiful moment for me was when Marcel describes the singing of birds at dawn, how people don't hear things like that anymore and have built walls of silence around themselves, unable to hear the world turning, self-obsessed and desolate. I think that although it's taboo in the west to be anything other than bullheadedly proud of the way we live nowadays, there are still many people who are forced to live inside their heads, and neurosis along with mental illness is widespread. This inside-living is shown in the movie by transitions to black and white images that show wish fulfilment. The inmates in this film are only ever fleetingly fulfilled.
My heart was broken before even the first shot in the movie rolled, by the piano solo from Jean-Marie Sénia playing over the opening credits, full of present drudgery and faraway hope, that is perfectly tailored for the movie.
The movie is actually very subtle, what's easy to pass by is that there's quite a lot of conflict between the members of the group: Marxist Mathieu would like to be able to examine the farm's books so that he understands how much profit it is making and what would be a fair wage for him, however his asking that and Marguerite agreeing to it is in one of those black and white fantasy segments - the farm is very much not a commune, Mathieu sits at the same table but is fundamentally labour; Max is very belittling about his girlfriend Madeleine's tantra; there's Marguerite's illicit prostitution, which her husband is totally fooled by, her secrecy he thinks is something mysterious and beautiful; and towards the end Marco suggests that Mathilde's child be named Marie (who has been jailed), and the others don't even clock who he's referring to. Perhaps if one were to look at the film blackly, the characters are stubborn, lacking the ability to fit in, to go with the flow.
Tanner's whole film is a complex example of how all these 68er people, now in a post-revolutionary confusion, try to understand the structure of time and their own position in it. Social critique philosophy is always existentialism, not on the trivial reason that a society consists of individuals, but because Being differs from existence by including the component of time into reflection. Since time cannot be structured by an individual alone, conflicts emerge, and conflicts are usually "solved" with fights and battles - as we know from history. However, a society in which conflicts can be analyzed into theses and anti-theses in order to be neutralized in syntheses, would be a society that is conscious that history starts with a metaphysics of time - as taught in the movie by Marcel. But Marcel loses his job, teaches in an old age home the "Temps Des Cerises", and history still starts with the enumeration of single battles - we have still not learned that the topic of history is not the fragile product of mankind - but the time and its structure.