|Index||5 reviews in total|
Having lived through the Student Riots in Paris, May, 1968, the United
States Civil unrest in the 60's, AIDS in the 80's and advancement of
technology in the 90's to the present, I can relate to everything in
this movie. Perhaps, younger people may not quite understand the
intensity of this movie and its historic nostalgia. I highly recommend
this movie as a viewpoint from the French point of view during highly
The film deals impeccably with disaster that ranged from death, imprisonment and the glimpse of the Twin Towers.
I would like to have seen the friendships of the people developed a tad bit more than what they were; however, the viewer can leave all to the imagination, or, perhaps relate in one's own life.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Nes en 68' is an ambitious film. It spans, in the 173 minutes version
I saw, four decades of political and erotic upheavals in a group of
lovers and friends.
Catherine, Yves and Herve are three students at the Sorbonne who participate in the events of '68. They are 20 years old and a loose erotic trio. Catherine gets pregnant (by Yves, we learn) and aborts putting her life to serious risk;in the meantime, the boys are involved in the Parisian riots.
Somehow things get to a halt, and, with a group of revolutionary friends they go to Lot, to an abandoned farm, to form a community "outside the constraints of the capitalistic world". Then sex happens, joints pass around, songs, running naked and giggling on the beautiful plain just below, and the thing starts getting stale, causing the gradual breakdown of the group. Things happen. Only Catherine stays firmly there, with her two children, Ludmilla and Boris, helped by her neighbor Marysa who has a son, Christophe, the same age to Ludmilla. Yves has returned to Paris, and Herve is in prison for an attributed murder.
Then the next generation comes on the scene, and the agenda changes painfully. New political issues, unexpected and opened up by the events of May '68: the sexual revolution paved the way for the homosexual citizenship, but not for the AIDS epidemic Christophe and Boris suffer; nor the opening up of and towards other ethnic groups to the questioning of the 'marital' identity Ludmilla suffers after her marriage to Farivar, an Iranian.
The Fall happens. Aides happens. The sans papiers in the St-Bernard Church happen, along with Mitterand, Chirac, biological agriculture, the Internet, le Pacs, the 11/9. The film ends with the election of Nicolas Sarkozy.
The film is a mixed success, if at all, though it has its own brand of interest. As we progressively get to feel, the title means those born by 68 lovemaking (namely Ludmilla and Boris), and those that are born-again, that is symbolically, the 68 generation. The film suffers from the sense of what it wants to be, without sufficiently working out the interesting details and ideas that appear throughout. For example, one of the merits of the film is the portrayal of Catherine's neighbors Maryse and Serge. Another is the friendship of the two women, Catherine and Maryse, and yet another the way we come to appreciate Catherine's character from a, at first sight, frivolous to an unassuming presence, enduring and working. But here problems begin. Laetitia Casta although involved is essentially miscast.
Up to the middle of the film I was titillated into guessing what direction the film was heading to. How it manages to handle in a telegraphic manner the situations presented is due to the scenario I think and the evaporation of the directors' humor as the film progresses; the '68 period was handled with touches of sometimes imperceptible humor, but the second part falls bizarrely flat. Take for example the obvious scene of Boris and Ludmilla mildly ridiculing their father who is immersed, in books about the prevailing -isms. Although this does not wound esthetically the scene, it comes after arguably the worst scene in the film where Boris and his lover in a somewhat heated, and sentimental, dialog about Pacs - then disaster happens:we get a full view of the room: in the corner, a TV screen shows the twin towers in flames. I don't know if this was intended as an irony for Pacs, but it comes off smacking of ideology.
As with the hilariously unconvincing make-up. As the film progresses, unaided by make-up, or character developing, or by not following the patterns it sets (ex. the very interesting libidinal tension between mother and daughter, or why Christophe gets out of scene tightening up dramatically Boris' bad conscience but just for a glimpse) not only it becomes unconvincing, it becomes an anxiety-ridden endeavor to handle as many issues as possible. I do not have a problem with characters befallen with all the plagues of the world, unless the handling makes an effort; for an idea of fate is for sure called in, as when, in the end the two friends Yves and Herve meet by chance, in a taxi, to redeem it all, or just to give it a sense of purpose. So what do you do about fate or allegory?(One can say that Catherine dying is an allegory for Utopian and Veme Republique France dying.) The directors seem uneasy with that in my opinion. The final shot tells so. The young, the new demonstrators at the Bastille mingle in the shot with Yves' face as he with mellowing nostalgia stubbornly watches them as the car speeds away. For, to make the pun come full circle, the film has at the end its own brand of interest, as many post-68 ideologues found and founded.
This lengthy and thoughtful film is one of the best French films of recent years. It begins in May, 1968, during the student riots at the Sorbonne in Paris, and ends in 2008. The characters at the start of the story are all students together who are passionate participants in the student revolt which caused such a shock to France that it resulted in most of the Sorbonne students being moved in subsequent years from the centre of Paris to outlying areas, to prevent such political riots ever happening again. (Hence the 5th and 6th arrondisements, stripped of most of their student population, have today become gentrified and expensive, and most of the former scruffy student cafes such as Café Mabillon have been turned into trendy restaurants for tourists.) The students are so intent upon rebelling against capitalist society that they agree to leave Paris, abandon a society which they reject both politically and socially, and set up a commune in an abandoned farmhouse in the countryside of the Lot, near Figeac. The lead role in this film is Catherine, played by the mysterious and beautiful Laetitia Casta, whose performance is one of such powerful and quiet subtlety that she steals all scenes without even trying. She appeared this same year in the wonderful film THE MAIDEN AND THE WOLVES (LA JEUNE FILLE ET LES LOUPS, 2008, see my review), and in 2012 she appeared in ARBITRAGE with Richard Gere. This film is based on an idea by Guillaume Le Touze, who was also one of the four writers, two of whom were also the co-directors, Jacques Martineau and Olivier Ducastel. Previously, this duo co-directed four other films including COCKLES AND MUSCLES (2005), and they have co-directed three more films since. The direction of this film is marvellous, and there is not a single dull scene or bad shot. The cast is uniformly excellent. The story is based upon the communard students who become hippies, and it traces their lives and the lives of their children over four decades in a fascinating and compelling human epic saga which is at the same time a social history of the alienated left in French society over those years. Several of them drop out of the commune and abandon 'the cause'. But the strongest one of them all, who never compromises, is Catherine. She is one of the quietest of the group, but she is their 'rock'. The film is a fascinating psychological study of a large number of individuals who differ in so many ways, and who are bound together only by a shared ideology of rejection of everything that is conventional. Many harrowing events and tragedies occur, such as Catherine's son and his boyfriend contracting AIDS, one of the group commits murder and goes to prison, another is killed by mistake by some policemen who think he is a criminal on the run. Another of the hippies turns out to be a thief and a fraudster who steals all the money of the rest of them. There are numerous wild scenes of a sexual nature, as the hippies believe in putting free love into practice when they are all sleeping in the same large room together. For those of us who remember the real hippie era, I would say the hippies in this film are too clean and too glamorous, as the real hippies of yesteryear were incredibly scruffy and scraggly and unimpressive. The struggles of these hippies to come to psychological terms with their sexual partners leaping into the adjoining bed with someone else, and of refusing to face up to jealousy while watching someone they love having sex with another person right in front of them are given great attention. Because they all believe in 'not possessing' a partner, they are forced to accept non-stop orgies as being 'ideal'. We see only one example of a girl refusing to sleep with a boy, and her reason is that she does not like him. But this is looked upon with disapproval by the group. Whether human nature is suited to indiscriminate group sexual coupling is examined here at some length. It mostly leads to tragedy and desolation. But then, some people have to learn by experience that not all theories work out in practice. After forty years, many hard truths are faced by the characters, and the film is to a large extent an exercise in taking stock of an attempt by a group of people to live their lives exclusively according to social and political theories, and whether that works or not. The answer is no.
A two hour and forty-six minute soap opera about dozens of people I
didn't care about for even ONE minute. Not even for one SECOND.
A heavy, plodding, totally humorless and lifeless look at the most exciting and eventful 40 years in the history of the world. I refuse to believe it was as boring in France during those decades as this movie makes it seem.
I love France, the French language, French movies, and the charming, cranky, creatively self-centered French people who love their country so much that they sincerely believe it's the center of the world. They deserve better than this dead, stupid, catatonically boring, navel-gazing, leaden record of their recent history. They've made some fantastic movies, but this is not one of them.
at first sigh, the film of Laetitia Casta. at the second, fresco of the France in the second part of the XX century. in essence, an ambitious film. maybe, too ambitious. because, for cover a large period, it use a strange puzzle stratagem. and that does it incoherent. boring in few scenes. too long. a form of improvisation. Laetitia Casta is the axis of the story and she does a real good job. but it is not enough. because the film , in the second part, lost its direction. a saga of family who becomes an improvisation, who can not convince the viewer, who remains useful as a photo album for remind different moments from the France's policy.sure, remains the atmosphere. and the salt taste of old freedom, sacrifices and decisions. but it is far to have a precise message. it is not a manifesto or recreation of a period. it is tender and seductive and touching in few scenes. but not real convincing.
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