I confess that I am not a big fan of Claude Lelouch. The cinematic aesthetic of his movies from the 70's were reminding me of illustrated magazines with glossy pages and photos of celebrities on the covers, beautifully printed and sparkly colored but a bit empty of content. From that moment on, I stopped watching his movies. 'Il y a des jours ... et des lunes' (the English title is 'There Were Days ... and Moons'), made in 1990, was a pleasant surprise for me. I decided to see it because of the presence in the cast of an impressive number of well-known French actors, and I was immediately captivated by the original idea and the interesting concept. It is not clear to me why this film is not better known, commented and debated in the context of Lelouch's filmography and other films with similar themes.
From the very first scene, Anouk Aimée's off-screen voice announces that one of the film's heroes will die in less than 24 hours. There are many candidates, in a human mosaic and a multitude of events that take time to form and find their place in the structure of the film. We are dealing with couples who are falling apart after many years or just a day after the wedding, with lonely men and women who met the wrong men, with a depressed singer and a truckload driver stressed by his boss, with a priest who is in love with a pianist and a little girl who observes everything and asks about everything, with police officers who drive over the legal speed and with traveling actors. A whole world that seems to be in chaos, but actually finds itself under astral signs - the full moon and the penultimate solar eclipse of the 20th century, combined with the transition from winter to summer time. Is the fate of all these people predestined? Will their paths converge to the same place and at the hour doomed to be fatal for one of them?
I liked many things in this movie, especially the way the stories unfold in parallel and the pace of the action accompanied and marked by an excellent soundtrack. The charm of the film lies in the humanity of the collection of small and diverse stories, presented with empathy and understanding. Not all the characters are well defined, some of them are perhaps even redundant and could have been omitted at editing to make the ensemble a little shorter, simpler and more clear, but the formula works. Made in 1990, 'There Were Days ... and Moons' was one of the first films to approach in a new-wave-ish manner the theme of astral signs guiding the destinies of heroes, and is also among the first films that use traffic jams on the highways as a framework for unexpected encounters and conflicts of the modern world. I believe it's a movie worth watching (or re-watching) and discussing.
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