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Odile is looking for a new, bigger apartment. Her younger sister Camille just completed her doctoral thesis has fallen in love with an estate agent who is responsible for Odile's apartment and who has an elder employee. Written by
Marco Radke <email@example.com>
Alain Resnais was at the age of 76 when he made his first musical, and to be honest he might just be the last filmmaker I would've guessed to make a musical - even that music has always played a huge part in his films. Alain Resnais was one of the most essential auteurs of the French new wave in early 1960's, during which he got a reputation as an experimental filmmaker by making Hiroshima mon amour (1959) and Last Year at Marienbad (1961) - who would've thought that a man who made these tragic, ambiguous films was going to make a musical? To my mind, through Same Old Song (1997) Resnais achieved the same Hitchcock did; combining experimentalism and populism - the film was drowned by Cesar awards.
In my opinion Same Old Song is the best musical made after the 1960's. Just like western and film-noir so has this genre died. But luckily someone was still able to bring something new to it. Same Old Song is and is not a musical. In the genre wishful thinking, better and dreamed ego, hopes for a better world and existence are combined. From this perspective Same Old Song is a musical but this idyllic joy is destroyed by showing the actual agony and depression that possess the characters. In the film the characters sing in appropriate and inappropriate situations; the music comes from a tape and it doesn't necessarily fit into the mouth of the singer. A young lady can sing throaty and loudly, and a German officer can burst out to a falsetto.
In the beginning there is a Resnaisian leap of time: 50 years, from WWII to the lives of the regardless and ignorant bourgeoisie of today. The reality is very elusive, nothing and no one is what they first seem to be: the inappropriate songs. The characters aren't living in harmony with each other nor with themselves, what the idyllic songs seem to reinforce - it's all a lie, fake, window dressing.
The characters sing classics by Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg and Charles Trenet - same old songs. "No one in our world can sing songs throughly anymore." (Alain Resnais) So all the songs are association; we only here brief fragments from them and this idea works brilliantly. The songs/ideas remain undone and the characters don't empathize. An old Avantgardist goes deeper into the core of art, not by adding but by erasing and simplifying.
Same Old Song could be seen as a parody or a travesty of musicals as the artificial joy wins. But it also has a social dimension; depicting the illusion of bourgeois happiness. The ostensible joy of the same old songs hides the depression, tiredness and panic disorders: "How long does depression last?, - 'Mine has lasted for four years.'" The things of everyday life, falling in love, decent life bury the actual fears of reality. The characters eat a lot and go to cocktail-parties, they don't really know who they are. The postmodern architecture represents the rootlessness of the characters and the vacancy of their lives - Alain Resnais continued from here in his later film Coeurs (2006), which is the best romantic comedy made in decades.
An obscure agony characterizes the city the characters live in. The singing society and artificial happiness are like a horror-utopia - to which not even some of the finest science fictions can't be compared to. Some of the characters realize their agony, share it and move on. But the others continue their artificial idyllic life - singing with no worries.
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