Marguerite Duras said, "I approach cinema with the intention to murder it." "Le Camion" is irrefutable evidence of her criminal intent. John Waters called "Le Camion" an example of truly experimental cinema because it is the absolute antithesis of anything remotely commercial. Released the same year as "Saturday Night Fever," it would be a sign of insanity to consider pairing "Le Camion" with it on a double-bill. Duras' film consists of endless shots of a blue truck driving through industrial sectors of the French suburbs, edited with the jaded-looking, chain-smoking director commenting on a script (that is never actually shot) to actor Gerard Depardieu. There is plenty of time to contemplate Duras' bracelets, wristwatch and her home decor, as well as what you might do once you're finally let out of the theater. An interior shot of the truck's upholstered bucket seats actually stuns the audience as if it were a moment of high-intensity drama. Eighty minutes long, the film actually seems much longer; in fact, it seems to take days. Oddly, it held me in a trance-like state for its duration. For his part, Depardieu -- constantly upstaged by the passive-aggressive Ms Duras -- looks bemused and feeds his co-star a lot of questions, which she answers with dismissive grandiosity, all of which is aimless. She talks about the script -- a story of a male truck-driver and an older, female hitchhiker, and their conversations, which are political, humanitarian, philosophical and all complete twaddle -- as if she has all the time in the world, and so do you. There may be something existential intended or it may, as I suspect, all be drivel. In any event, there is no question MD succeeds in strangling the life out of the cinema -- very slowly. Not to be missed, and unlikely you will want to see it twice. As Waters pointed out, introducing the film at Alliance Francaise in New York in February 2006, this film was never released on VHS and is unlikely to show up anytime soon on DVD.
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