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Early one morning Valerie has to tell her unemployed boyfriend Remi that she is pregnant. She has decided to keep the child, but they argue whether they should break up or not. That same morning Valerie starts working in room service at a smart hotel. The film follows the routine of Valerie bringing breakfast to the guests, Valerie constantly trying to phone her mother, and Valerie's relations with the other staff. Written by
Life as it is - a film in real time -- but what was the point?
I picked up "La Fille seule" ("A Single Girl"; French, 1995, with English subtitles) on video tonight and just finished watching it with a friend of mine. Neither of us really understood what the film was about or what its message was.
Nominally, the film shows a morning in the life of Valérie (Virginie Ledoyen), a woman probably in her early 20s, and her having to tell her unemployed and uninspiring boyfriend, Rémi (Benoît Magimel), that she is pregnant. It is also the first day of work for her, after being unemployed for a year or so. Much of the elapsed time depicted in the film is on the job - she works delivering room service meals to guests at a fancy hotel in Paris. The story is revealed in real time - when Valérie walks, we follow her until she gets where she is going, and then continue our almost voyeuristic tailgating of her. The shooting gives an impression of hand-held filming.
I enjoyed the concept of showing life as it is with time neither compressed nor played backwards or forwards. We see all of Valérie's morning - her walks down long corridors and rides up and down the hotel elevators delivering food, her signing of her employment contract, her washing her hands in a bathroom - everything. However, this becomes a bit monotonous - which could have been the director's goal - and I found myself imagining scene transitions and cuts to integrate the story's meaningful montages and leave out irrelevant trivia.
I didn't really understand what message we're supposed to glean. Valérie is surprisingly bereft of much emotion in most of the film; is "A Single Girl" a simple tale of the possibly mindless dehumanization some work can inflict on us? A depiction of monotony of real life? I don't think so. Maybe just an experimental play with time? That could be, but it could have been much more clever and interesting.
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