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A wallet lost and found opens the door to romantic adventure for Georges and Marguerite. After examining the ID papers of its owner, it is not a simple matter for Georges to turn the red wallet he found in to the police. Nor is it that Marguerite can recuperate her wallet without being piqued with curiosity about whom it was who found it. As they navigate the social protocols of giving and acknowledging thanks, turbulence enters their otherwise quotidian lives. Written by
Alain Resnais started as a French new wave director and is remembered for creating such classics as Hiroshima, mon amour (1959) and Last Year in Marienbad (1961). He often deals with the layers of memory, yearning, oblivion and death in man. He throws his characters into a story and sees what the fuss occurs. His latest film Les herbes folles or Wild Grass is a psychotic version of the conventional genre of romantic comedy. Les herbes folles is a new kind of comedy; it challenges the limitations of cinema and the fantastic imaginative narrative is something we haven't seen in decades.
A pickpocket steals a wallet of a woman. A man finds the wallet and since it has an ID card within he decides to return it to its owner. After a series of difficulties the woman gets her wallet but the man seems to be hoping for something more between them.
The characterization of the film is simplified but strong, it makes us question the role of a character in fiction. Marquerite (the woman) is purely a fictional figure: red haired dentist who loves flying. Georges (the man) is an ordinary suburban dad who has got a dangerously unstable personality. He thinks about murders and crimes, but is it all fantasy or could he actually do it? The character remains elusive, and I loved it.
Les herbes folles was Alain Resnais' first adaption from a novel, even that he has worked with many famous writers such as Marquarite Duras. Les herbes folles is based on a novel "L'Incident" by Christian Gailly. Alain Resnais has always adored "cheap" literature and the things he got from this small unknown novel amaze me. What I've heard is that Gailly's narrative is minimalist but the narrative of Les herbes folles in obviously the opposite. The 'mise-en-scene' is filled with precisely considered items that yet appear as ordinary furniture. An important addition Resnais made for the novel is the wild grass which grows from the gaps of the asphalt streets. Just as the grass so do the passions and desires of the characters run wild.
The visuality of Les herbes folles is imaginative and enchanting. Already in 1959 Resnais made innovative use of flashback in Hiroshima, mon amour and in Les herbes folles he mixes flashbacks, delusions and fantasies in a very unique, absurd way - overall the film is a courageously playful story. Both the editing and cinematography overwhelmed me they just make this a very aesthetic experience. The scene with the cops is full of close-up, stylized editing and quick zoom-ins and this absurd use of camera just reinforces the Kafkaesque in the entire scene.
Les herbes folles is a new beginning in a way, it's something Resnais has never done before and I hope we will see many great ones by him in the future as well. It's a film which plays around with cinema narrative with stylized editing and simplified characterization. In the end it grows out to be a mature antithesis for brainless romantic comedies and a wonderful aesthetic experience.
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