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Il gattopardo (1963)
Sweeping Saga of the Birth of the Italian Nation
Visconti'mos The Leopard, based on the novel of the same name by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa is an epic that encapsulates the birth of the modern Italy and the transition from the old world of the privileged but moribund aristocracy controlling small duchies to the new era of the democratic nation-state.
Burt Lancaster is surprisingly well-cast as the ageing Sicilian prince who realises his era is drawing to a close whilst Alain Delon, playing Tancredi, represents the ambitious, younger generation, fluid to adapt to a changing situation and seeking glory for their own benefit.
The film does not take sides between the aristocrats and the peasants. The aristocratic class is shown to be relatively benign by this period, despite their isolation from reality and lives of privilege. As the priest notes, they are simply different, with different priorities and expectations from the rest of the people. Lancaster's prince is a fascinating mixture of honour, integrity and decadence. Having all that he can want except an exciting wife, he constantly seeks affection from other woman to make up for her dourness and extreme prudishness.
Visconti's cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking. Virtually every shot in the film looks as though it could come from an oil painting of the era, so perfect is the framing of the shots and so rich and exquisite is the colour.
There is an interesting use of abrupt cuts to the soundtrack during the cuts from scene to scene and this reinforces the abrupt changes happening in Sicilian society.
The film's pace is slow and there are times that interest lags but there are enough bursts of humour and drama to sustain one in the end. The flaws and humanity of the people who make up this dying class really do shine through. Ultimately, the film is the character study of someone who recognises the time for change has come yet and finds himself representative of the transitional generation between the two epochs.
There is violence in the film and some scenes of warfare however, this reinforces the fact that soldiers are brutal opportunists and that there is no real honour in the military. Indeed, the fact that some of the aristocratic women fall for the delusion that a man in uniform is somehow a good man makes an ironic point about how divorced from the brutal reality they are. Indeed, it is frightening that someone prepared to kill can then rise to a position of power in society, a problem that democracies are still to adequately address to this day.
The ball scene at the film's end shows how the classes and generations intermingle in the new life.
The dialogue is excellent and seems to translate to English well on the subtitled edition this reviewer watched. Particularly insightful is the soliloquy about Sicily being a stagnating society, that only if people escape whilst young can they be revitalised and shaken out of their apathy. As someone who left another island (Tasmania) in a similar state of apathy (albeit with a much younger society and culture than Sicily), this reviewer can relate to the need to escape and revitalise if one is to have a future.
The Prince, though, recognising his age, refuses to escape. He is not world-weary though, just resigned to accept his generation will fall, yet still intent on clinging to the old values of honour and integrity.
Ultimately, this is a lavish spectacle on a large enough scale to encompass the saga of the birth of a new nation out of a myriad of ancient and tired kingdoms. It is also a character study of a person who fits into neither world and feels it more honourable to stand aside for the young generation to take charge. It also shows that values do not always change for the better and that something of value, however small, may have been lost when the brutal and ruthlessly ambitious younger generation took power.
With some of the best cinematography ever, excellent acting and a truly historical sweep, this is one of the greatest of the studio-bound epics. Of course, like the Prince himself, these films would be a dying breed throughout the 1960s as the new generation of the nouvelle vague movement asserted themselves across Western Europe.
Ikarie XB 1 (1963)
Another Excellent Science Fiction Film from Beyond the Iron Curtain
Ikarie XB-1 stands alongside First Spaceship to Venus and Planeta Bur as one of the fine achievements of 1960s Eastern Bloc science fiction. Like the other two films, it provides a relatively realistic look at what a long-term journey to another world would entail and avoids Hollywood contrivances such as warp travel. Like the other films mentioned, there is surprisingly little in the way of overt communist propaganda in this piece.
The Ikarie (Icarus) is the first inter-stellar ship and is travelling to Alpha Centauri. The film handles time dilation in a realistic way and shows how the cosmonauts cope with the knowledge that they will age more slowly than their colleagues at home.
The film is episodic in form and shows the tribulations and successive crises the crew face on their protracted journey. Some of the challenges are minor but they become increasingly fraught with danger as the ship nears its destination.
The film does not feature an omniscient third-person narrator; rather all events are told from the perspective of the crew of the Ikarie. Hence, some mysteries they encounter do not have answers. Who exactly was aboard that 20th Century Earth ship? What was their mission? Why were they gassed to death? The film's director, Jindirch Polak, seems to have looked to France and taken some ideas from the nascent nouvelle vague movement. The camera work is fluid and the black and white cinematography is presented almost in the style of a documentary. The acting is natural and there is a lightness and energy to the proceedings that the early Soviet science fiction films lacked.
The symbolism of the birth of the new child in space, between two worlds, is a subtle and tasteful event and adds to the documentary feel of the film. The music and sound effects are a little discordant and unnatural, reinforcing the mood of the film and sense of isolation of all that is harmonious and natural.
The ship is an odd, bold design and shows a clear trend away from traditional rockets and flying saucers that had predominated in cinema science fiction up until that point. Indeed, the design reinforces the idea that the Ikarie is a small city in space.
However, any notion that the Ikarie is a substitute for a real city is swept away at the end when the characters reach their destination, the Alpha Centaurian system planet, covered in a vast, futuristic "city of light." The film ends at this point, with a glimpse of the brave new world. This technique works extremely well as it forces the viewer to imagine what this utopia will be like for him or herself. The only hint is that the aliens seems welcoming, extending a friendship to the humans by saving their lives and guiding them down with the tractor beam. They are aware of the threat of the black hole and save the human strangers from it.
There is a real hope then that the alien other seeks to be a brother to us and that we are welcome on his land. How this message came across during the Cold War with tensions between the east and the "other world" of the capitalist west would be interesting to research. The hope for a warm welcome and a recognition that all life is equal is implicit to this ending, though.
In this sense, this is a piece of true science fiction. Only by travelling away from our time and our place can we look back at ourselves and understand our humanity and our social and political problems and enact change. Perhaps, the film hints, the alien world is not so alien after all and the extra-terrestrial inhabitants of Alpha Centauri are as humane as the earthlings.
An excellent science fiction film, far superior to Hollywood offerings in the genre, let down only by a few clichéd moments, a few moments of awkward pacing and overuse of the disturbing, dissonant music. Its sense of atmosphere, documentary-like nature and uplifting ending raise it well and truly above most genre fare and make it one of the few great science fiction films to have been produced.
Another Superb Film Forms Part Two of Bergman's Faith Trilogy
The second film in Bergman's faith trilogy commences with one of the best scenes in cinema history. A large portion of a church service plays out in real time, without commentary, as the audience is silently introduced to the main characters in the film by the panning camera. First the pastor is introduced and then various members of his flock.
Bergman's customary stark cinematography mirrors the simple, austere interior of a Protestant church and, in close up, the camera tries to peer into the soul of each congregant.
This beautiful scene and moving church service stands in contrast to what follows for, it is revealed over the film's course that each character is grappling with fundamental doubts about his or her faith. These doubts will, in some cases, lead to tragedy. Indeed, they hear the words of the liturgy but do not let them live in their hearts.
Of all Bergman's films, this one perhaps deals most directly with contemporary issues and shows how the current events of the Cold War and paranoia about nuclear annihilation play directly on the heart of a normal man. He takes on the burden of worrying about things beyond his control and can no longer pray to God or trust Him about them.
This anxiety leads him to being a victim of his own doubts and, indirectly, a victim of the diplomats, world leaders and media preying upon peoples' fears.
The other characters' struggles represent the complexities of human relationships that Bergman customarily depicts so well, from the turmoil of the priest's doubts to his rejection of a new lover who would be a surrogate for the wife he lost.
The film is rich with symbols that are simple yet richly ambiguous. Inside the church, there is a statue of Christ with his fingers broken. Does this represent the wounded, broken body of a Christ who died for the world or does it symbolise the decay of the church, with a people now too apathetic to care? As usual for a Bergman film, sound effects are kept to a minimum and the pace is slow and reverential. This emphasises the fact that perhaps life is the real liturgy, solemnly unfolding before us. If the Church liturgy is meant to reflect the struggles and spiritual battles of life, maybe it needs to be updated to be more relevant as these congregants go through the ritual yet it means nothing in their heart. Are they at fault or has the Church failed to adapt to the new age? Bergman leaves this question for the audience to answer.
Ultimately, this is a richly-rewarding film and a worthy successor to In a Glass Darkly. Together, they make up two of the most profound meditations on religion yet committed to celluloid.
Das Haus in Montevideo (1963)
Delightful German Comedy
Kautner's film adaptation of Curt Goetz's play is one of the most delightful comedies to emerge from Germany in the quiet decades of the 1950s and 1960s.
A morality tale, it tells of how a cold-hearted professor makes a pariah of his black sheep sister, who flees to Uruguay. Eventually she dies, leaving him a house there that may or may not be a brothel. Unfortunately, the luxurious residence will only be his if his daughter first gives birth out of wedlock.
The film has a light, breezy style and makes much fun of social and moral conventions. It is particularly interesting to see as a period piece at the dawn of the sexual revolution in the western world. Of course, German Lutheranism has none of the prudishness or puritanism that infected Christianity in the English-speaking world, so the culture of that country was comfortable tackling this material. It is hard to imagine this film coming out in England, the United States or Australia during that time period.
Despite this, there is absolutely no explicit material in the film, just some sly innuendo and good coming timing.
The professor's family at home provide a delightful supporting cast, Ruth Leuwerik providing the film with a moral centre as the warm, maternal mother caring for her brood of bespectacled children and doing her best to restrain her uptight, arrogant husband.
Ilsa Page performs well as the oldest daughter and creates a suitably likable heroine figure.
The house itself is a wonderfully-realised set and represents both a utopian ideal and the shallow materialism encouraged by a consumer society. The professor, for all of his disciplinary attitude and attempts to regiment his family, is ultimately a corruptible hypocrite and it is tempting to read him as a political figure, perhaps even as Hitler. For all of his power, authority and supposed leadership skills, he is shown to have no substance and be easily corrupted and out for material gain, to the extent where he will sell his own family members.
In such a reading, the ostracised person could be one of Hitler's opponents. The person he persecuted and expelled now has a posthumous upper-hand as he secretly covets the fruits of her debauched lifestyle.
A feminist reading of the film is also interesting. To the father, his daughter's reputation is also a commodity to be traded in exchange for a more valuable commodity, the house.
Montevideo, on the other side of the world, is where traditional moral structures are inverted. Temporarily estranged from Germany society and the bonds of family, the professor undermines his own hollow moral code. Like a colonist, he thinks he is free from the watching eyes of society to do what he likes in this frontier land.
Ultimately, this is a comedy about hypocrisy and the failings of an insular, arrogant academic and the way in which puritanism, as a moral code, causes more harm than good to family relationships. In that sense, the themes of the film are still pertinent today and it is sad that it is not more widely-known in the English-speaking world.
Planeta bur (1962)
Very Enjoyable but the Voyage is Better than the Destination
Planeta Bur is another strong 1960s film from behind the Iron Curtain. Along with the likes of Ikarie XB-1 and First Spaceship on Venus, this production shows that film-makers in the communist countries were committed to producing high-quality films with a kind of gritty realism lacking in the output of their Hollywood rivals.
Like most Soviet films, the production has some technical problems. The direction is very rudimentary, the colour film stock of extremely poor quality and the sound is muffled. There is no great artistry here but, despite these limitations, it is a thoroughly pleasurable science fiction film and stands head and shoulders above most Hollywood output, then and now.
If anything though, this film suffers from being a little too much like First Spaceship on Venus. It features the same realistic voyage, landing on a surreal alien world, deployable surface vehicles and maintenance robot. Unfortunately, it suffers a little in comparison for whereas Stanislaw Lem was able to write about a truly alien world, this film falls back on the old and erroneous clichés of Venus being a young planet and thus features dinosaurs and the like.
Nevertheless, the first half of the film is extremely strong, with an emphasis on realism in space flight. Gone are the contrivances found in most American science fiction of ships with unscientific, magical properties like faster-than-light engines and the ridiculous need for ray guns, space battles and the like. Here is a comparatively realistic space craft and a story that shows that one can encounter just as much drama exploring one's own solar system.
Some of the acting is wooden but the characters are slightly better defined than in First Spaceship to Venus. The robot is, for the most part, realistically portrayed as a useful tool though there is, unfortunately, a moment of unintentional camp when rain affects its circuits, causing it to babble incoherently. Falling into campiness is a danger when creating films in this genre and, despite this moment, the writer and director successfully avoid this trap for the most part.
Another fortunate thing is that the film is virtually devoid of Soviet propaganda, making it all the more watchable today.
The greatest problem, though, lies in the journey's end. Venus is an interesting, alien world at first but one's interest quickly wanes and the aforementioned dinosaurs will only captivate very young children. Science fiction should present an estranged view of humanity, allowing us to reflect on ourselves and our society from afar. Lem's film does this by showing how the aggressive Venusians destroyed themselves through their imperialist ambitions and experimentation with nuclear weapons.
This film, presenting a primeval world, holds up no such mirror to humanity. It does present a hope that we can work together to explore space in the future so there is a vaguely utopian feel but there is no real critique of society so it ultimately fails to be really effective science fiction.
Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings, due to its realism, atmosphere and plausible depiction of robots and other space hardware, it remains an enjoyable film, just not a profound one. It is a refreshing and superior alternative to Hollywood science fiction films with their emphasis on violence, camp and fantastical space craft.
Mixture of Good and Bad
Cartouche is a 1962 Philippe de Broca offering from France. Ostensibly a well-crafted film, its technical excellence cannot save it from the fact that it represents that most tired and banal of cinematic genres, the swashbuckler.
Full of action, there is no depth to this film and Jean-Paul Belmondo's macho posturing throughout would sit more comfortably with an American audience than with a French (or an Australian) one.
Indeed, throughout it is clear that the director is trying to create a very Americanised film and it simply does not work in a French context.
Whilst the action scenes are themselves well-choreographed, some of the cuts between scenes are very crude.
Pacing is a problem that makes this film even more monotonous. The long and unwieldy narrative quickly becomes tiresome as one knows the hero will triumph. Although there is a dark twist towards the end, this is exactly what happens. The character is clearly drawing on the Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood, blended with some elements of Fielding's picaresque hero, Tom Jones.
The colour is vivid and the spectacle is on a large scale but one has little sympathy for the characters. Cartouche is so much larger than life, one cannot empathise with him at all, especially given the macho posturing mentioned above. Even the Costner Robin Hood some thirty years later had failings and enough of a back-story to create some empathy. Cartouche, though, has no back-story and there is little character development throughout this film. As he is so uninteresting a character, one quickly loses interest in the film.
Despite the problems with the characters, Belmondo and Cardinale as well-cast as the leads and do their best with the thin material.
Indeed, Cardinale's character is the most interesting in the film, managing to blend a fiery personality with a submissiveness to Cartouche that would no doubt infuriate feminist audiences today. Indeed, a reading of the film from her character's point of view would make for a fascinating thesis. It is, therefore, her death at the end that gives the film its only real poignancy. Her laying out as a Princess, bedecked with the jewels stolen from the society ladies at the ball is a wonderfully-ironic moment. Likewise, the reflections of the dark, inky water when she is laid to rest give the film its only real moment of cinematic beauty.
Besides this, the film's real saving grace is its subversive critique of the military. In the early part of the story, soldiers feature prominently and are consistently shown to be nothing more than state-sanctioned mercenaries. They do not care who they kill, as long as they are well-paid.
Along with this ruthlessness, they are shown to be buffoons in uniforms, lacking any kind of depth or redeeming features. This wonderful subversiveness stands well today and gives the film its only depth, particularly when one considers it was filmed during the fallout of the Algerian War.
Ultimately, one has mixed feelings about this film. For the most part, it is well-made, with some spectacular action scenes but also some poor editing. The male protagonist is a comic-book character but the female has more depth.
The film's saving grace is its subversive quality. It bravely seeks to undermine the military as an organisation full of fools and ruthless, uncaring killers and it also seeks to attack the emerging trend of feminism by showing the loyal, submissive woman as the ideal.
Ultimately, though, it is clear that the swashbuckler was a very tired genre by this time and it is fitting that this is one of the last of its type.
Der schweigende Stern (1960)
Superb Science Fiction Tale Written by Lem
Der schweigende Stern (First Spaceship on Venus) is a superb science fiction film produced behind the Iron Curtain at the height of the Cold War. Fortunately, communist ideology does not feature prominently in the film though, no doubt, the producers were keen to create something that would rival - and exceed - the Hollywood films of the era. In this, they succeeded.
With a screenplay written by no less a science fiction luminary than the great Polish author, Stanislaw Lem, the film is relatively realistic in its depiction of space flight, giving it a grittiness that the frequently camp offerings from the United States all too often lack.
The set of the rocket ship's interior feels far more realistic than the garishly-painted plywood sets that would feature in Star Trek in just a few years' time.
Likewise, the rocket's exterior model is strikingly stylised, giving it a unique appearance.
The early realism gives way to a kind of surrealist feel when the ship lands on Venus. Special effects are used to good effect to create an atmospheric, thoroughly alien world of mists and sink-holes.
In contrast to Lem's later Solyaris, the alien culture encountered here is comprehensible to humans. A paradox is presented in that the alien artifacts indicate that they were significantly more advanced on a scientific level, yet still retain the aggressive, warlike tendencies that the humans in this utopian tale have left behind.
Indeed, the film follows the well-worn but still valid path of warning that our moral development has not kept pace with our scientific achievements. Here, the Venusians, intent on invading Earth, have unwittingly inflicted a nuclear apocalypse upon themselves.
The cry for peace and nuclear disarmament gives this film its timeless appeal. Also of interest is the fact that the rocket from earth consists of an international crew working in harmony. Again, this predates the ideas in Star Trek by several years and there seems to be a greater emphasis on true egalitarianism in this film: there is no American captain lording it over his crew, which did so much to undermine Trek's message. Unfortunately, despite these good intentions, much more character development is needed as one feels little sympathy for the crew. They are all largely interchangeable characters.
Unfortunately, the film does have weaknesses, both technical and in terms of plotting. The film stock is of poor quality, the camera work quite static and some of the acting is wooden. There are no bravura moments from the director: it is all very workmanlike.
Furthermore, some cringe-worthy moments do creep in, despite the overall feel of gritty realism. For instance, the ship's scientist gives the robot a "heart" within moments by simply plugging a few wires into the machine. The fact that the archive recordings are stored in robotic insects is never explained, nor is the gravity repulsor that pushes the rocket away from the planet at the end.
Depending on one's view, the revelation that the alien mud is in fact energy that has been converted back into matter is either very clever or ludicrous.
Pacing is a little problematic at times with the momentous nature of the discovery that the Tunguskan artifact is, in fact, Venusian in origin being very rushed.
In summary, despite its problems, this film is far superior to virtually all Hollywood science fiction, chiefly due to its realistic portrayal of space flight, grittiness and atmosphere.
Its attempt to portray a utopian future in which all nationalities can work in harmony is a heartfelt one at the height of the Cold War.
Its message of peace is also timeless and means this film is as relevant today as ever.
Without doubt then, this is one of the greatest science fiction films and one that is sadly overlooked in favour of lesser offerings from the West.
This Pandora's Box Remake is, Unfortunately, Weaker than the Louise Brooks Version
This 1962 remake of Pandora's Box by Austrian director Rolfe Thiel is a lesser vehicle than the 1929 silent version. Nonetheless, it is competently made with good use of black and white cinematography imparting the atmosphere of the Weimar Republic.
Nadja Tiller is by no means incompetent in the lead role but she is by no means as iconic as Louise Brooks. Making her a blonde was probably a good idea to reinforce the notion that this is a different film with a different Lulu but it also makes her that much less memorable than Louise with her trademark appearance.
Liberal use is made of soft-focus photography, emphasising that the film is set in the part and highlighting the vulnerability of its lead.
Overall, though, scenes are less well-orchestrated than in the previous version. There is no ambiguity here as to whether or not Lulu pulls the trigger to kill her lover and there is little tension at the end when Jack the Ripper appears. The murder happens so quickly, one feels the film is very much anti-climactic.
The narrative is told in a straightforward, realist manner and lacks bravura. It is a competently-made film and, perhaps an overlooked one but it is difficult not to compare it to its predecessor and it pales by comparison.
La jetée (1962)
One of the Greatest Science Fiction Films
This short feature from Chris Marker is one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. In a genre that has had far, far more failures than successes this stands out as a triumph, due to its simplicity and artistry.
Dark and disturbing it is a reflection of the fears of the time at which it was made: the immediate wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the continued sabre-rattling of both the United States and USSR empires.
Marker play with notions of time throughout this film, the stylistic device of the photographs emphasising how people perceive snapshots in time.
The use of the photographs also raises questions about what, exactly, cinema is, for is it not just a number of photographs played in rapid succession? Here are a selection of photographs that would constitute a complete scene, slowed down so the illusion of cinema is exposed.
The film also asserts notions that history will repeat itself and its ending is dark and pessimistic with the totalitarians winning, at least at this moment in time, as they have done in the past. People are used as guinea pigs in their experiments, echoing the Nazis, and disposed of when they are no longer of use, echoing the dreadful philosophy of utilitarianism and perhaps the current consumer commodity mindset.
Nevertheless, there is a glimpse of a more enlightened future with the benighted, remote but peaceful figures from centuries hence looking down benightedly and saying they understand the present man and wish to help him. Nevertheless, they are unable to save him from his fate in the past.
They indicate that, for those living on the verge of the apocalyptic disaster, there is no hope to be found in the present but only in nostalgic reflections of an innocent past and a utopian future when we are finally pacifist and our of culture, philosophy and religion has matured.
In summary then, this is an excellent film with more meaning than virtually any of the science fiction produced in Hollywood with, perhaps the exceptions of the Day the Earth Stood Still and 2001: a Space Odyssey. It is a bleak and pessimistic film about the Nazi past and Cold War/consumerist present but it offers a slim hope that the future, unimaginably distant will be a pacifist and benign one. Like all great science fiction it uses estrangement, in this case, a post-apocalyptic future to make us reflect on our present. Like all dystopias, it also provides a rallying call so that we might make change now to start creating the distant utopia and not the imminent totalitarian nightmare world.
Jules et Jim (1962)
Over-Rated Film is Good but Far From Truffaut's Best
Jules et Jim is often venerated as one of the greatest films of the nouvelle vague movement. Sadly, this is not the case. Indeed, it is not even close to being Truffaut's best (Shoot the Piano Player, for one, was a more interesting and daring film, with deeper psychological insight.) For all of its flaws though, this film has an irrepressible energy and vitality that reflects the youthful exuberance of its three leads. Indeed, it is only at the end, when Catherine's constant vacillation between lovers becomes tiresome to the audience, does one start to lose interest.
The film can be read as a story of male solidarity that not even a war between nations or the affairs of an amoral woman can undermine.
Jules and Jim are both intellectual characters, from different cultural backgrounds but united in their interests. Despite their intellectual inclinations they are far from being insular academics (they are, indeed, more inclined to be writers or poets) and live exuberant lives in early twentieth century Paris, until they encounter Catherine, a rare woman who can actually match them and, indeed, out do them in their joie de vivre. Hers, though, is an amoral outlook and though she uses men in a predatory fashion they are both happy to accommodate her.
She is unable to make a commitment to either and can only split their friendship by destroying herself and Jim in the film's climax. Her decision to commit murder-suicide seems as spontaneous as every other decision in her life and it is just as theatrical -she must always have an audience before her. She is potentially a cold character at heart as she is so selfish but, to Truffaut's credit he brings a great deal of warmth to this tale and that is, perhaps, its greatest achievement.
The film's exuberant feel is captured in it cinematography. By using hand-held cameras on location, there is a realness and energy to this production that is mirrored in the strong acting by Moreau and the great Oskar Werner.
Small scenes that are otherwise pointless to the plot, give this film a lyrical quality and emphasise Catherine's spontaneous character. These include her dive into the river, which foreshadows the film's ending and the famous scene of the race, during which the motion of the camera mirrors the movements of the actors.
There is use of farcical humour as in all nouvelle vague productions and a use of what is obviously stock footage to emphasise that the film is an artificial construction by the auteur, not an illusion of real life.
The film was probably set in the early twentieth century time period both to capture the turmoil of the era and to add shock value. The idea of people living such unconventional lifestyles would have been even more incongruous in the Paris of 1912 than in the Paris of 1962.
Despite Truffaut's use of these radical new techniques and the shocking, unconventional nature of the love affair at the heart of the story, interest wanes towards the end. Catherine is, ultimately, a superficial character and even her exuberance cannot carry the film. As noted above, her energy wears out the audience and her inability to make a decision does not captivate as Hamlet or any post-modern hero would; it merely frustrates towards the end. Her death being the only way she can resolve her trivial dilemmas is a contrived ending and one audiences are unlikely to find either satisfactory or subversive in this modern age.
In summary, this is an important nouvelle vague film and maybe even essential viewing for those of us who love European cinema but it is not a great one. It ends up being as superficial as the character being studied and all the energy, joy and lightness in the world cannot disguise that fact.