This superb exercise in combinatorics demonstrates the cinematographic power of Raoul Ruiz. A black and white prelude to the movie sets up the tone and announces the intent to tell nine stories, all marked with letters of alphabet, with the subsequent permutations of these stories. Not only the plotlines get mutated and re-ordered, so do the actors, hats, beards, accents, manners - in short, whatever MAY identify an actor in a role ceases to be such an identifier. The plot itself becomes a mystery, since there are parallel searches for the treasure, the map of treasure, which as we learn is a treasure in itself, a coin, a kidnapped father etc. etc. etc. The camera work is breathtaking. From the very first tale, where camera makes a full circle around a reading monk while the surroundings change from daytime to nighttime (all in one take), to the very end where the same woman appears both in a coffin and on a tree, as well as a free spirit. One can only feel happy to hang on to one's good senses immediately after the dazzling story twists and visual bravura. It would be foolish even to dare think of "getting it" in one screening. This movie, filled with visual, verbal and audio gags must be seen numerous times. Knowledge of French would be beneficial since the subtitles cannot convey the semantic depth of Ruiz's sharp and tornado-like dialogues (e.g. when asked about the cause of death, the character responds that the deceased just had a "crise de foi(e)", which is either "liver deficiency" or "crisis of faith" depends on what one hears :) ) If you have enjoyed the visual luxury of Le Temps retrouve, you would be dazzled by Combat d'amour. The only thing that I find missing is Catherine Deneuve or Gerard Depardieu, the only two names that can practically force distributors to buy this movie. Just like Donald Sutherland almost single-handedly brought Canadian taxbreaks to thousands of American and Canadian movies, the French government should oblige the abovementioned "godparents" to appear in almost every French movie, making them exportable and distributable :)
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