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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Didier Sauvegrain ...
Patrick
Martine Simonet ...
Nelly
Jean-Claude Bouillon ...
Le père de Charlotte
Edwige ...
La chef de gang (as Edwige Gruss)
Jean-Pierre Fresqueline
Les Go-Go Pigalle ...
Eux-mêmes
Bibiane Kirby ...
Charlotte
Georges Bensoussan ...
(as Georges Bensousan)
David Czerniak
Michel Chalmeau
Marie Dupin ...
Jeanne, la collègue libraire
Guy Mercier
...
Le patron du garage
Gérard Zalcberg
Blaise Boutefeu
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9 April 1980 (France)  »

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Assayas First Film!
20 December 2010 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

So I saw this film, which aired on the French version of arte, and I decided to do a little research on it. From what i gather it is notable as one of the first films written by Olivier Assayas (Demonlover, Clean, Irma Vep).

While studying literature and painting at the University of Paris during his twenties, Assayas had a couple of stints working on B-Movies, before getting jobs for Richard Fleischer (The Prince and the Pauper) and Richard Donner (Superman). During this time he wrote two short films: "Scopitone" (1977) and "Nuit Feline"(1978).

He would end up making this film in 1981 with his friend Laurent Perrin taking on the directorial role. During this time Assayas was collaborating on articles in "Cahiers du Cinema" and writing film reviews for Metal Hurlant Magazine. He was also a part of London's punk/counter-culture scene and associated with the radical Situationist movement in Paris. These influences are clearly reflected in this screenplay and film.

I'm going to be honest, my French is minimal at best, and i did not have subtitles, but here is what i gathered from watching it a few times over.

We are following the main character, a shaggy haired guy wearing overalls who rides a motorcycle. As the film opens, he drives around and talks to some friends for a bit, during which we discover that he is small time coke dealer.

Our shaggy haired dealer is styled as a Jean Paul Belmondo in "A Bout De Soufflé" type character, a sort of criminal wannabe. Three scenes in the film make this evident. The first is when he walks into a friends flat and there is a group of guys there- including the really creepy looking guy. He throws their bag out the window, only to have his friends girlfriend walk in with bag second later. The second scene is when his friends girlfriends Dad shows up angry, and he starts to steal his car as a way of running him off. The third example is after he steals the woman's stockings and put's them on his face- facing the camera with a gun in his hand while pretending to hold people up- a direct homage to Belmondo's character in "A Bout de Soufflé".

We watch as he deals to a lesbian punk rocker. He is clearly just the delivery guy, as we see him hand off the money to the dealer who he is working for. While our main character goes off to meet his girlfriend at a cafe, we see the lesbian punk rocker try the coke and throw it away. He unknowingly ripped her off by selling her fake stuff. (I suppose, taking this into consideration, he could have purposefully ripped her off and then bought more real coke off the dealer..not sure!)

Next, our main character and his girlfriend go to a punk rock show, where he meets with a friend. The band they are watching is Les Go-Go Pigalle, an old-school French punk rock band with a sax. Pretty wicked. Our character goes with his friend backstage to sell some stuff and do a few lines. But, unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by an undercover police officer (we don't become aware of this until later, but it is implied by a subtle camera movement onto the officer in disguise, who is staring at our character and his friend).

Things seem to be going good for our character- he's having a good time with his girlfriend- despite the fact that they are awoken one night by their friends' raging girlfriend- possibly having some sort of bad trip (and some sort of bad omen...).

As, the next day, we find him in the park with his girlfriend, waiting to do a deal with the lesbian punk rocker. When he walks down to meet her, a black cat crosses his path. She is not alone, but accompanied by 3 butch members of her lesbian punk rock gang. She grabs the money out of his pocket and kisses him. He wipes his mouth, the girls push him down and kick his ass- leaving him with a black eye.

Our character starts to walk back up towards where his friend is waiting for him, and notices that he is being questioned by police. When his friend sees him he yells a warning and our character bolts off as the two officers chase after him. The one officer goes to shoot him but the other officer grabs his arm to redirect the shot.

Our character tries to find a place to go, but everywhere he goes he finds the officers questioning his friends and acquaintances. So he ends up hiding out in an old condemned building set to be demolished. This is where the film ends, cutting out on a shot of the creepy looking dude and one of his buddies (not sure why!).

A Scopitone is an old French design of jukebox with a 16mm component- a predecessor of the music video- which played a short 16mm film along with musical accompaniment. I didn't see a Scopitone in the film, though there are some old jukeboxes and pinball machines in there.

I suppose that Assayas titled the film "Scopitone", as it is a sort of testament to the punk rock life, which could be equated to the purpose of the Scopitone. That's pure speculation, but either way, it is a pretty excellent job for a first film if you ask me! Definitely worth checking out, hopefully somebody will make subtitles for it soon!

Resources used: Beyond Auterism By Rosanna Maule and wikipedia on Scopitone


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