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17 October 2001 (France)  »

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Souls in Nevers
19 August 2006 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

If you have doubts about either the French, or the power of film, (and you probably should) you need to check out Renais' early works, particularly "Last Year in Marienbad." Its a phenomenal achievement, as layered as life is and from which we escape with simple stories.

I think it is the deepest from that tradition, in fact transcends the mechanical intellectualism of the tradition. Before that, he made "Hiroshima, mon amore" which is less deft because in place of constructed narrative we have the broken narrative constructed by the world (the bomb).

You really should see it. Its folded of course, a movie about the making of a movie. A broken narrative about the broken narrative of the world. Here's how much I respect the man: I saw "Hiroshima" 40 years ago or so and do not consider myself ready yet to see "Night and Fog" because it supposed to be more humanly gutwrenching.

Now along comes a neo-new-wave director who creates another set of levels that completely compliment "Hiroshima." Its Japan reaching France rather than the other way.

The original movie had an actress in Japan making a film about Hiroshima and falling in love with an architect she meets. Life, film, national action, even geography, merge in the story and along the way you almost lose track of which is the base story and which merely the resonances.

This film here, "H Story," is about the director of the film we see trying to remake "Hiroshima," with the exact lines (only he doesn't speak French) and it going haywire. Suwa is the director of both. What goes wrong is something of a mystery that you can only see if you can read all the levels at once.

The actress is Béatrice Dalle, who we see as the character in the remake, and as the actress playing that character and having the same severe emotional swings that her character would have if the folded layers of the original were shifted a bit.

I have not seen Dalle before, but now I must look for her elsewhere because she truly seems to understand, even anticipate the director's intent, which is to stand in relation to the original film as it stands to the narrative of the bomb. She really is amazing in the conventional ways, but what you look for is the unconventional. If Derek Jarman were an actress, he would be she. Inside and outside simultaneously.

This whole experience, from the bomb dropping to the writing of this comment has left me with the notion of scintillating ground. What's solid?

Usually in folded projects, the ground is explicitly made solid. Look at "Full Frontal" for a modern example, or "Adaptation." The effectiveness of the narrative ambiguities depends on you being rooted.

Not here. The narrative effect depends on the ground being blown up. In this, all the roles you can take as a viewer become rooted in all the roles our woman takes, and all the impulses that are sustained between us. Its something of a miracle that it works, but it does,

It does, and makes life worth living, if you find your H. I hope you do too.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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