A young writer becomes intrigued with a mysterious dark-haired woman who claims to be his long-lost sister and he begin an unusual relationship with her prompting a downward spiral involving his domineering mother and lovely fiancée
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Pierre, a young man of privilege, whose anonymously-published novel is a hit and who's about to marry his blond cousin, Lucie, abandons all when a dark-haired vagrant tells him her secret late one night in the woods: that she is Isabelle, his sister, abandoned by their father. Pierre breaks off with Lucie and his doting mother, heading for Paris with Isabelle, intent on knowing the dark side of human nature. He begins a novel, sending chapters under a pseudonym to his publisher; his relationship with Isabelle moves beyond the fraternal; and, in winter, the frail Lucie comes to live with them. Family jealousies mount, and Pierre may have discovered despair instead of the truth. Written by
The "X" in the title represents the number of drafts the script went through. See more »
Be careful! You dream of writing a mature work, but your charm lies in your thorough immaturity. You dream of setting fire to God knows what, of rising above your times like a dazzling cloud, leaving everyone terrified and admiring. But you weren't born for that, Pierre! You don't even believe it yourself.
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When Melville's "Pierre; or The Ambiguities" hit bookstores in 1852, his first publication since "Moby Dick" a year earlier, the public response was similar to that found among the IMDB reviews of "POLA X". Newspapers even published headlines like: "Melville Insane!" which, of course, he wasn't. But, when one compares the writing styles found in "Moby Dick" and "Pierre," one finds in the latter a sharp departure from the simple and often declamatory style found in the former. Clearly, he was mimicking the overly florid style of the now-forgotten Victorian Romances that were easily outselling his immortal "Moby Dick." He was not content, however, to turn out the sort of product that his publishers wanted, and that surely would have sold. His version of a Victorian romance was a twisted, cynical one, perhaps, but brilliant in its synthesis. The alternate title: "The ambiguities" is quite appropriate. As Pierre searches for, and thinks he finds, truth, we become more and more uncertain what and whom to believe. As he searches for happiness, he becomes more and more miserable.
"POLA X" is a fascinating adaptation of this novel, set in modern or nearly modern France. Though, in some ways, it leaves little to the imagination, and shows us graphically the incestuous relations that Melville could only hint at, the ambiguities which make the novel and its message so alluring are perfectly in tact. The questions it raises are ones that few films have thought to ask, yet the answers are left to the viewer.
I recommend a reading of the novel, which is much shorter than "Moby Dick," before seeing this movie. I hope more people discover this tantalizing film.
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