In 1917, the First World War is raging. Julien is from Luxemburg, so instead of having to go to war he studies piano in Paris. One day his friend Jacques, also a musician and now a fighter ...
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Gian Maria Volontè,
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In 1917, the First World War is raging. Julien is from Luxemburg, so instead of having to go to war he studies piano in Paris. One day his friend Jacques, also a musician and now a fighter pilot on the front, invites him to spend a few days in his family's empty house in Bray. The housekeeper, a beautiful but mute woman lets Julien in, but his friend is late and he is obliged to wait. In the meantime, he starts reminiscing of the pre-war days spent with his friend and Jacques' girlfriend Odile.Written by
André Delvaux depicts a strange world where the frontier between dreams and reality becomes blurred.
A not very accessible auteur,Delvaux is an acquired taste."Un Soir ...Un Train" is one of my all time favorites but "Rendez-Vous à Bray" well...Bulle Ogier and Anna Karina are the kind of French actresses I just cannot stand.I must say that,as Karina has few things to do here,she is quite good.
Delvaux knows how to create a mysterious disturbing atmosphere.Take the scene on the train: the woman's looks are enough to generate a strange feeling.No need to argue about "why ain't you a soldier whereas I'm fighting to put an end to all wars?" .
His technique is now really running well: the flashbacks almost always come from things the hero (Matthieu Carrière)spots in the mansion where he is waiting for a friend.Not that the trick is new: in their 1939 masterpiece,"Le Jour Se Lève" ,Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert already pioneered the process (the teddy bear notably).But these ceaseless flashbacks - which made "Un Soir Un Train" even more impressive- really mesmerize the viewer who does not know where he stands anymore,in dream or reality ,in an old memory or in a movie...
The movie in the movie was already present in "Un Soir Un Train" : the scene when Montand and his companions enter the odd tiny movie theater and watch a weird film is arguably my favorite in that movie.In "Rendez-Vous à Bray" ,Delvaux uses some Louis Feuillade's footage :"Fantomas " was one of the big blockbusters of the WW1 years in France ;today some critics talk about "Feuillade's brainwashing" .
Delvaux seems to love popular literature :after the show,in the cafe ,Bulle Ogier tells us Souvestre-Allain's hero's tales in lavish detail (the director switches smartly from Sonia Danidov's madness to Karina's wandering in the corridors with skill);in "Un Soir ,un train" there was a short hint at Jean Ray's "Harry Dickson" .
Based on a Julien Gracq short story which I have not read,"Rendez-vous à Bray " is visually a splendor.But whereas "Un Soir Un Train" was really,in its last sequences, very moving ,"Rendez-vous à Bray" hardly touched my imagination the way his former work had done.
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