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Je veux quelque chose et je ne sais pas quoi (2004)

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In 1941, Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman living in occupied Amsterdam, starts a psychoanalysis with Julius Spiers, a disciple of Jung specializing in feminine hysteria.



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Title: Je veux quelque chose et je ne sais pas quoi (2004)

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In 1941, Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman living in occupied Amsterdam, starts a psychoanalysis with Julius Spiers, a disciple of Jung specializing in feminine hysteria.

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Awfully Confused and pretentiously arty
27 July 2008 | by (Montigny-lès-Metz, France) – See all my reviews

I do not doubt Joanna Grudzinska wants something but the trouble is that, I , as an average viewer, do not know what!

Well, this short could - and should -have been fascinating, or at the very least interesting. It is supposed to be loosely (very much so indeed)adapted from the diary of Etty Millesum, a Jewish woman living in Antwerpen, written between 1941 and 1943. Etty suffered from hysteria (in the medical sense of the term) and was treated by Spîers, a therapist using unconventional methods.

First surprise: the time period during which the film is set is not very clear: is it the forties (like when the young woman walks down the metro corridors) or 2004 (she pays in euros) ? Of course the effect may be intended but the result is confusion rather than timelessness.

Second problem: I am no hysteria specialist (and I guess only a wee minority of the viewers is) so I expect a modicum of information from the writer-director as - I put it before - I am a lambda viewer: a little bit of understanding helps me to enjoy a work. Now, what knowledge can we get from this film? None. The first sequence in which the therapist delivers a lecture about hysteria could have helped. Alas, Joanna Grudzinska has decided to plunge the audience into his speech AT THE VERY END. What's more, Lou Castel, who plays the part, has a very thick Italian accent and his words are inaudible. Which does not prevent the director from wasting several minutes afterwards showing several of the women who attended the lecture talk idly before parting at last.

Let's now turn to the therapy sequence which makes the bulk of the movie.

It takes place in the woman's apartment.

In this apartment, there is a man who plays a melody on an untuned piano. Who is this fellow? The woman's companion? The symbol of uncommunicableness? Very confusing.

The therapist and his patient struggle on the floor. This must be part of the therapy. What is the good of it? Don't count on Joanna to drop the slightest hint! Very frustrating.

Of course some films tend to explain too much as if their writers and/or directors did not trust the viewer's intelligence. But explaining nothing is even worse. As far as I am concerned, there is a happy medium to be found. Unless the artist has opted for abstraction, which is not the case here.

To crown it all, Joanna Grudzinska films her "story" in a pretentiously arty fashion, believing strongly that the core of things lies in emptiness. The final result is appalling: a boring sequence of listlessly filmed hollow scenes. Not recommended.

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