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Famous French writer Georges Pérec was always interested in cinema. He notably took part in Alain Corneau's thriller "Série Noire" (1979) five years after this adaptation of his own novel. Shot by Bernard Quesyanne and awarded with the Jean Vigo prize, the filmmaker found an adequate cinematographic language to capture the somewhat desolate spirit of the novel.
A student who's about to end his studies decides overnight to stay completely indifferent to the world that surrounds him. It's a silent, black & white movie only enhanced by a woman voice over which introduces the young hero to the audience and comments from his own standpoint his actions. Although we don't know the reasons of his retirement from the world, we learn many things of his lifestyle: his bedroom, his wage, his eating habits, his wandering all over Paris etc... It's interesting to note down the mellow voice-over of the woman that gradually gets worried and angered. Indeed, our student is at first completely silent and indifferent but then anxiety, fear overcome here. Is it really possible to stay indifferent like that during a lifetime? Is there a possible exit?
This film could be a cousin of Alain Jessua's debut film "La Vie A L'Envers" (1964) in which a man stops to comply to the routine of everyday life. Such is also the case here. Only the voice-over enables the audience to penetrate the empty soul of this young man and to try to decipher his thoughts although as I previously said his motivations to refrain from social life remain blurred. Through him, Pérec wanted to express his view on French society but in a neutral way. He was always interested in it and showcased it in several of his books especially "La Vie: Mode D'Emploi" (1978). Given the anguished tone adopted by the voice in the second half of the film, the writer probably feels fear towards the banality and the mundane character of everyday life that offers no exits. Perhaps that's what our main hero tries to do: to stay in silence to try to discover another world. But it is bound to fail. So what to do?
Jacques Spiesser is perfectly directed and his expressionless faces capture the nothingness he voluntarily creates all around him. He is at the center of an arty film which tries and succeed to depict the humdrum common life that can verge towards absurdity.
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