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In 1997, for it's fiftieth anniversary, the Cannes Film Festival asked Leos Carax for a short film, a kind of postcard addressed to the festival, in which the director would give news of himself and of his film project "Pola X".
Set against Paris' oldest bridge, the Pont Neuf, while it was closed for repairs, this film is a love story between two young vagrants: Alex, a would be circus performer addicted to alcohol and sedatives and Michele, a painter driven to a life on the streets because of a failed relationship and an affliction which is slowly turning her blind. The film portrays the harsh existence of the homeless as Alex, Michele and Hans, an older vagrant survive on the streets with their wits. As they both slowly get their lives back together, Michele becomes increasingly dependent on Alex as her vision deteriorates further. Fearing that Michele will leave him if she receives a new medical treatment Alex attempts to keep Michele practically a prisoner. The streets, skies and waterways of Paris are used as a backdrop to the story in a series of stunning visuals which dominate the film. Written by
Leos Carax was originally given permission to use the real Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris and have it closed for filming but delays in filming meant the permission expired and he had to reconstruct the whole thing on a lake near Montpellier, France. The construction of a new version of the Pont-Neuf - and its surrounding buildings in Paris - helped make the film of the most expensive French films ever made. See more »
My dreams sent me. People in dreams, ought to call them when you wake. Make life simpler. "Hello, dreamed of you. Love woke me".
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After the last end title, during a fraction of a second, there is a handwritten inscription "à Luje - Amour - A." (To Luje - Love - A.) A. stands for Alexandre (Leos Carax' real first name) and Luje for Juliette (Binoche). See more »
This is one of the great romances precisely because it goes against the grain of all the great screen romances. Because of its ability to strike new terrain -- to go where no romance has gone before, to take chances, in essence -- it achieves a level of passionate intensity that most romantic films could only dream of mustering.
The camera work -- by Jean-Yves Escoffier, one of the great cinematographers working today (who shot Leos Carax's early films -- "Bad Blood" and "Boy Meets Girl" -- as well as Larry Clark's "Kids," and the directorial debut of Harmony Korine, "Gummo") -- is absolutely breathtaking. I cannot overemphasize this. It is, perhaps, one of the most beautiful color films ever made. The style of the film suits the subject matter perfectly. It proves that the great films have a form that not only compliments the subject matter, but becomes it. The content is the form, and vise versa. The film is shot "Cinema-Verite" style, with rough, hand-held, choppy camerawork, and a gritty, realistic aesthetic quality. There are moments of fancy and surrealism that would seem to utterly contradict this style. On the contrary, these moments are rendered believable, avoid presenting problems of logic, because of the film's harsh, balancing tone. The "wild" style of the film captures perfectly the passionate, stormy affair of the lovers -- the truest love, and certainly the most passionate, the film says, is that closest to nature, to the base element of humanity.
Another layer of enjoyment comes from the film's similarity to Jean Vigo's "L'Atlante." In fact, the final sequence in the film has the two lovers plummeting from the bridge into the cold water. They are picked up by a sand barge, on its final trip to the ocean. The husband and wife, who we learn have spent their life shipping sand, agree to take them along. It is almost as if the couple in "L'Atlante" have reappeared to prove that passionate, tumultuous love affairs can end happily, despite their problems. One of the last shots of the film shows the two lovers walking across the barge, over the hills of sand, to the bow -- a direct quotation of "L'Atlante."
The last shot (for enemies of James Cameron's "Titanic" -- an absolutely shallow romance; as cold and heartless as the iceberg that dooms the ship) shows the two lovers hovering over the bow of the ship, magically, as if suspended by love. It is obvious James Cameron plagiarized this moment ("Les Amants..." came out in 1991). This fact should be trumpeted far and wide. "Titanic" is a bloated whale of a movie. "Les Amants du Pont Neuf" is simply the greatest romance to have erupted on the screens in the last decade.
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