During the rehearsals for the production of the tragedy Andromaque, the leading actress and her director, a couple behind the scenes, can't find a way to leave their personal problems at ... See full summary »
Julien lives alone with his cat. He dreams of Marie, and a few minutes later, he sees her on the street and makes a date. He asks her to move in with him, and she does. Her boyfriend is ... See full summary »
Anne Goupil is a literature student in Paris in 1957. Her elder brother, Pierre, takes her to a friend's party where the guests include Philip Kaufman, an expatriate American escaping ... See full summary »
Elizabeth sends telegrams to her old boyfriend Ben in NYC and to her younger sister Leo in Rome to join her in Paris, where she is selling her dead father's estate. When Ben and Leo arrive, a mysterious adventure begins.
In eighteenth-century France a girl (Suzanne Simonin) is forced against her will to take vows as a nun. Three mothers superior (Madame de Moni, Sister Sainte-Christine, and Madame de ... See full summary »
A mysteriously linked pair of young women find their daily lives preempted by a strange boudoir melodrama that plays itself out in a hallucinatory parallel reality.Written by
David Watson <email@example.com>
It is a misconception that most of the film was improvised by the actors. Jacques Rivette provided structure but did not let his actors "go wild", instead he let them write. A single scene was improvised, where Celine, played by Julie Berto, brags to her associates about her rich American friend. The rest of the scenes where shot from scripted material, mostly thanks to participating actors. The film is collaboration by several authors, including actors Berto, Labourier, Ogier and Pisier. Rivette's involvement in the writing was to give structure to all the contributions, tightening things up. See more »
Last year, at a crisis time of imminent homelessness, I went to the video store with the idea of renting some banal new release to distract me from my troubles. Waiting in line holding a video starring Tom Hanks (or was it Kevin Costner? Maybe it was Julia Roberts. Such a blur is Hollywood today) something in the foreign section an aisle down caught my eye. It was the video for Jacques Rivette's 1974 masterpiece, Celine and Julie Go Boating.
Immediately upon seeing the cover image of Juliet Berto (Celine) posed as a magician, her Dietrich hauteur kinky and comical, I knew it would be my kind of film. I was also pleased to see it was such a long film it had to be contained in a two-video set. It had long been my suspicion that all secrets of life would be revealed in a film over three hours long and in French.
Indeed, Celine and Julie is just that film. But it conceals as it reveals, which is to say that its great mysteriousness results from its floribundance of revelation. Yes, my friend, a floribundance! I never even thought of such a word until seeing Celine and Julie.
Critics have been unable to explain what it's "about". I cannot. I can't explain the plays of Shakespeare or the poems of Emily Dickinson, but I am moved by them. Attempts to understand them can lead to intense mental spasmodics, but the pain, if the work is good, can be great.
Those who've seen the film will remember the hard magic candy the women savored on their own path to understanding. Vision giving, the candy became an addiction to them. Once is never enough and hasn't been for me. I have seen Celine and Julie three times and thought of it many more.
My favorite scene is where Celine performs her weird magic act in a nightclub where, as far as I can tell, the customers are all convicted poets. The atmosphere there is fascinating. Time stops while she does her act, which is beyond words, indescribable. The whole feeling in that scene of a kind of super sophisticated moment of comedy and sex and mystery all shared by a group of people in silence is one that I find marvelously inspiring. Surely some clever entrepreneur in San Francisco, where I reside, could open such a club. Oh, I suppose it won't happen, but at least one can dream.
Really, it's the importance, power and pleasure-pain of dreaming that this film reawakended me to when I saw it months ago. To be like Celine and Julie with their minds moved by candy is a state I aspire to daily.
When I was briefly without a place to live, I thought of this film and was taken to a sunny day in Montmarte, a house where the living and unliving mingle, a library where stalkers and smokers meet. I savored that magic, the effect of great art on the mind, and I knew I was not truly homeless.
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