|Index||4 reviews in total|
20 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Robbe-Grillet's best, 28 April 2007
Author: itedomus from Paris, France
Alain Robbe-Grillet is not mainstream; he makes uncompromising films to please himself rather than an audience and this latest production is no exception yet of all his creations, "Gradiva" is probably the most easily accessible to anyone with the courage to follow where he leads. It is a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland sexual fantasy - not for the feint-hearted - where time and space double back on themselves, where reality and illusion are indistinguishable, where, in spite of transgressing most generally acceptable sexual limits, Robbe-Grillet manages to leave us with an aftertaste of great tenderness. Lovely performances from Arielle Dombasle and Dany Verissimo.
12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
A more personal ARG film, illuminating for fans, 11 April 2009
Author: oOgiandujaOo from United Kingdom
Here we have a film that should be very intriguing to Alain
Robbe-Grillet fans. There is perhaps a tendency of critics and viewers
to focus on the more youthful works of directors and abandon the mature
canon, Robbe-Grillet falls into this lacuna, alongside Godard, Chabrol,
Rivette, Argento, Jancso, Resnais, and Iosseliani. This could be a case
of going for style over unvarnished self-expression. Gradiva is less
stylistically audacious than Eden and After (both movies have similar
geographical themes and settings), but Robbe-Grillet is saying a lot
more about the nature of fantasy and love, and actually the nature of
censorship, in this film. I think it's even really a very gentle movie
despite the extended focus on S&M.
ARG has always been very careful to delineate between reality and on-screen fantasy, but nowhere more so than in this movie, where, as in Trans-Europ-Express, he has a character actually creating the story we are seeing, to stress that, "it's only a movie". This has been a tradition of decadent literature, de Lautréamont for example prefaces Les Chants de Maldoror with the following caveat, "God grant that the reader, emboldened and having become at present as fierce as what he is reading, find, without loss of bearings, his way, his wild and treacherous passage through the desolate swamps of these sombre, poison-soaked pages; for, unless he should bring to his reading a rigorous logic and a sustained mental effort at least as strong as his distrust, the lethal fumes of this book shall dissolve his soul as water does sugar." To me at least, the plot of the movie is quite simple when stepping back. Locke lives with his (apparently indentured) servant Belkis, who is in love with him. At night he hears the faint singing of Gradiva, who can seen as death, or a ghost, or a facilitator of Locke's more extreme fantasies. He leaves Belkis on his shiny Harley (a motif from La Belle Captive) and journeys into the bazaar of Eastern fantasy. It's a simple Bollywood/Hollywood cookie cutter script at heart, there's a man and there's a good girl and a bad girl battling for his heart.
The main character in this movie is John Locke, presumably a reference to the synonymous philosopher whose conception of the self as a continuity of consciousness is a clear touchstone of the movie. He's an Orientalist professor who is interested in tracing the Moroccan adventures of the painter French painter Eugène Delacroix. This also may pique the curiosity of the Eden and After fan who had noticed at the time the influence of Delacroix in certain scenes of that movie (the firedancing by the sea with the Arabian horsemen for example).
Locke shifts through different modes and interstices, fictional, oneiric, uncanny waking, it's often hard to tell. There's an illuminating quote from Leila/Gradiva, "In fact the world of dreams resembles very much the other. It's its exact double, its twin. There are characters, objects, words, fears, pleasures, dramas, but everything is infinitely more violent." There's a Madame Butterfly theme to the movie, some may say the use of the music was a step too far, but Robbe-Grillet was too old to care about such posturing I'm sure.
So I mentioned about censorship at the start. There's a quite stunning moment where it dawned on me that Arielle Dombasle was speaking as Alain Robbe-Grillet, from beyond the grave, on the theme of censorship. She talks about herself as a "comedienne de rêves", by which she is talking about film direction assuredly. She tells a story about having planned a "Sado-Lesbian epic", which was to have starred an underage girl, the girl was enthusiastic, the parents had signed off, everyone was in accord, but the producer was too afraid to do it, can you imagine, he only cared about money ("des sous!", which I presume is a pun?). It sounds a very interesting film, but I think ARG is being a bit quaint, setting the film industry up as something that would be self-policing on the matter of the use of underage nudity.
There are a lot of likable uncanny touches in the movie: at the start of the film Locke is watching a slide projector with a deck of Delacroix paintings of horses. One particularly good one is in sepia and shows a woman dancing whilst holding the bridle of a rearing horse. Locke hears the clip clop of hooves, the dream has become reality, and he looks out the window and sees a horse and female rider outside. Locke's toothache was a slightly nausea-inducing effect which worked well for me. My favourite though is how characters he meets, strangers or otherwise philosophise at him and finish saying, "Didn't you know that John Locke?" I wondered going in to the movie about the chances that it was on a par with Eden and After. My surprised answer is yes, it may even be better. There is an element of juvenilia to Eden and After, I think ARG, who was a mathematics student once, was probably picturing himself as one of the bored dramatic maths students in that movie. Gradiva I felt was a more mature and frank work.
I think that some would be disappointed that the dreams are not presented with the audacity say of the sequences in Tarsem's Cell. However I think that would be over-exuberant for the subject matter. James Wilby as Locke is interesting, I recognise him as a bit part actor from UK TV series, so how he got involved with this is a mystery to me. I would say a lot of people wouldn't quite go for his performance but he is very much meant to be a Candide in this film, so I can quite happily accept what others may look on as naive acting.
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Beware of dreams, 13 October 2009
Author: Irtisen (email@example.com) from France
Alain Robbe-Grillet's work is long, especially in the beginning. Whereas eternity is in the ending: Gradiva can't be that bad. A Robbe-Grillet's film is supposed to mix reality and dreams (no doubt!), hence Gradiva is no surprise. The actors do not necessarily understand their part (whether you decide they should or not), just as we do not understand what 'life' is, we players. Robbe-Grillet asks questions through stories, e.g. 'who is playing', 'who is being played', 'what is allowed', 'who is the director'... But he doesn't give definitive answers. He achieves his goal in the meantime. He just says that dreams can kill. So books and films can. All protect us from eternity. Can you hear Gradiva's call?
4 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
It's strange that a 84 yo director doesn't yet know which way to complete a movie, 10 September 2006
Author: enrico-capra from Italy
It's strange that a 84 yo director doesn't yet know which way to complete a movie. In the beginning I was so hopeful about the develop of the film, maybe because of the special and magic atmosphere of Morocco, and for nice imagine of the main character, but then, during the movie, I realized that Grillet actually didn't find a line (especially for the style) to rise his work. Probably it can be caused by intricate and ambitious script, but it's evident how the director uses own cinematic culture: many references to works of other artists are more or less detectable, and the results is a weird pastiche of mannerism. Furthermore I found, and this is coherent with I've just said, the constant changes of style and rhythm are too brave and too much...I don't think the lesson of Surrealism means that, though Grillet looks like knowing very well this genre of art. In conclusion I wish to make clear that I have not been disturbed by scenes of violent mixed with sex, which appear numerous in the film.
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