Middle-aged artistes provide the focus of this drama filmed in black and white. The story is set in Paris around the time of the Gulf War. Paul is an actor leading a drab directionless ...
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Middle-aged artistes provide the focus of this drama filmed in black and white. The story is set in Paris around the time of the Gulf War. Paul is an actor leading a drab directionless existence. He has an affair with Ulrika, a woman half his age. His wife, with whom he constantly argues, is pregnant with their second child. He does not interact much with his teenage son. Much of the film centers around the emptiness of his life. Written by
Sad and enigmatic "La naissance de l'amour" (The Birth of Love) is like great literature since it doesn't answer our questions, provoke us with more and more questions and let us making questions about what love really is and, more important, where did love begins? How it appears in people's lives? Is it through gestures, looks, acts, sexual relationships, mind, heart, our ego or the will of making other people happy and loved? No film, music, book, play even life's experiences ever answered this question, it always keeps floating in the air and we really don't know what to think.
Writer and Director Phillipe Garrel presents the story of two friends, Paul (played by Lou Castel) and Marcus (played by Jean-Pierre Léaud), both in search of trying to understand what love is and what love really means. Paul is married, has two kids but seems unsatisfied with his life and keeps meeting other women, trying to build a relationship, but most of the time these women don't want to stay with him, they just want company to sleep with it, but no sex involved sometimes. Marcus had some affairs here and there, but keeps thinking about one girl he loved but didn't loved him anymore because of his egocentric behavior. Throughout the film he'll keep thinking about working on something he likes, or the possibility of having a child (after noticing how happy his friend is with his kids. How naive of his part!).
Calmly and very patient, Garrel gives us ordinary moments in everyone's lives with these two guys living unimportant lives while trying to make something different of it. While Marcus tries to reconcile with his girlfriend, Paul gets fed up of his family, constantly arguing with his wife and his older kid, hiding of them that he has lovers and that he might walk out of his family to live with the first woman who falls for him. We are constantly reminded in films or in life of how does love dies in a relationship but we're never able to see how does love born. From what and where? Here, I think that love was just a word used to express something else, affection, sex, caress, anything else but not that kind of feeling that grows inside of you and want to make things better, something that makes you fight for, as long as it last. Conclusions to be found at each different person and it each new view you'll have on this film.
If my view on this film looks vague is because the film goes the same way. Garrel didn't play fair by not giving a more intimate and deeper look to the female characters, they are on the screen for a short time, they talk about their feelings to their man but we can't connect quite right with them, the screenplay needed to stay with them more. I know, Garrel is excellent with female roles, "La Vent de la Nuit" was astonishing, and "La Naissance de l'amour" could be a good and distant cousin from Mike Nichols "Closer", they have some similarities.
And also the fact the film spends an excessive time with Paul than time with Marcus, and I felt something should be made to balance both characters so we could sense their differences, contradictions (very good established when they travel to Rome, talking about their relations with their fathers. Marcus wanted to beat his father, he lost money he borrowed to him; Paul was in good terms with his father). And more: besides spending too much time with an unlikable character like Paul, also comes the fact I haven't enjoyed the actor's shouting performance. Léaud in Castel's role would be much more effective, much more challenging although he's great here in his small scenes.
For its audacity in using a abrupt conclusion that makes us wonder so many things, for being very mature and a little bit emotionless in not giving answers, and for excellent dialogs, use of a sad and truthful black and white cinematography, "La naissance de l'amour" is a very good film. A little bit foggy, but a very good one. 9/10
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