Paris by night. Alex, 22, wants to become a filmmaker. He is fascinated by first times and his girlfriend, Florence, has just left him for his best friend, Thomas. First break-up, first ...
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Paris by night. Alex, 22, wants to become a filmmaker. He is fascinated by first times and his girlfriend, Florence, has just left him for his best friend, Thomas. First break-up, first attempted murder: Alex tries to strangle Thomas, but gives up and wanders the streets. That evening, Mireille, a girl from provincial France who has come up to Paris to make commercials, is left by her boyfriend. Alex witnesses this separation. These two tormented souls run into each other at a party....
I hadn't even been aware of this film when it was passed my way by a very kind fellow IMDb user. It is the debut feature by Leos Carax, a film he directed when he was only 24 years old. Like most of the other films in the cinéma du look movement, in which Carax was a key member, it's not very story-driven and instead favours strange plot tangents and a cool distance from its characters. The basic narrative tells a story of a depressed young man who meets a suicidal young woman after both of them have just suffered rejections from their respective partners. They enter a relationship of sorts.
It feels like Carax must have been influenced by the early 80's Francis Ford Coppola films One from the Heart (1981) and Rumble Fish (1983); like the former he often told simple romantic-drama stories in highly stylized cinematic ways and like the latter in Boy Meets Girl he has did it using crisp black and white photography. It is a very visual and typically left-of-centre approach that has been taken to the material. Unlike most films based around a romance, it takes an hour before the two title characters actually meet at an off-kilter party populated by eccentric characters. So much of the focus is really on other things with a number of little unusual vignettes making up the whole. Its story of young love and alienated youth isn't really a very uplifting one in fairness and could easily be described as a tragedy. Although it isn't necessarily as involving on an emotional level as it might be due to Carax style which always takes a somewhat removed perspective from his characters. I'm not entirely sure that this is the best approach for story-lines involving romance as these work best when you have more empathy and involvement with the characters in my opinion. But I still have to admire the look and feel of the film though which is pretty interesting for the most part. In addition, despite not having an actual score, there is interesting use of music, with a night-time sequence on the Pont Neuf bridge set to an obscure very early David Bowie track, while at another moment a character unexpectedly puts on the record 'Holiday in Cambodia' by the hard-core punk band the Dead Kennedys. These moments cement the fact that this was a film that resolutely celebrated popular culture. All-in-all, while it is not an entirely engaging experience this is a very confident film for a 24 year old novice film-maker to knock out.
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