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This is a making of a musical, with Chantal Ackerman behind and in front of the camera.It is mostly a collection of clips, talks, directions, lectures..... with the camera capturing the whole adventure.
What happens when a script is too tedious and not enough fastidious
Pianos are popular in films, aren't they? I thought in the middle of the screening. I remembered two other piano related movies: Polanski's "The pianist" and Jane Campion's "The piano". I thought about Polanski's film because it also dealt with a pianist and the holocaust and I reflected on "The piano" (which deals with a mute pianist and her daughter) because I half wished, eventually, that one of the leading characters would develop an incurable muteness.
Lengthy dialogues were a stumbling block for plenty of films (Matrix reloaded, Clerks, most of Woody Ellen's "serious" films to name just a few)and this film, it seems, suffers a great deal for it.
The plot of the film is slightly complex so I'll just give you its major outlines. Charlotte (Sylvie Testud in a wonderful performance) is a writer trying to accomplish an erotic novel while living with her widowed, piano teaching, mother in a cramped apartment. In a desperate attempt to finish the novel, Charlotte is trying to find eroticism in pretty much everything (which is a futile attempt when it comes to armchairs, we learn) and battles writers block, unpacked boxes and piano lessons held by her mother.
Soon Charlotte realizes that their new apartment will smother her unborn novel and looks for potential buyers. At this point the movie becomes the word feast I related to earlier. Also, at that point, the movie is submerged in characters with various degrees of authenticity and grace, including a pregnant jubilant woman who falls in love with the apartment, a bitter couple that are incompatible in every possible aspect and an elderly real estate agent who survived the holocaust. Speaking of which, the subject is dealt with in a very allusive and indirect manner. Maybe not to give a bleak atmosphere to an optimistic movie or maybe because the French people are not ready for a full scale confrontation with their shady history.
I guess the abundance of sub-plots, characters and endless slightly hallucinatory dialogues, together with the 10:00 am (on a Saturday morning, mind you) screening, prompted me to gaze at my watch occasionally. I kept wandering if this movie would have benefited the omittance of some of its plots and enhancing the remaining ones. I still do.
The movie's positive traits are attributed mainly to the dazzling performance of its leading actress, Sylvie Testud (Who's character, Charlotte, is based entirely on the writer/director, Chantal Akerman, according to her own testimony) and I hope that's not the last we saw of her. I also hope that more and more writers will realize that in scripts, the old Cliché "Less is more" is a good piece of advice (and many writers, even prominent ones, haven't figured that out, yet) and that a clumsy script can weigh heavily on a movie and its unsuspecting viewers.
Especially at 10:00 am on a Saturday.
5 out of 10 in my FilmOmeter.
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