La maladie de Sachs (1999)
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I understand that many people like it, it is typical French, in everything, photography, history, actors, everything.
Are the actors okay? Which? The extras that go through the movie or the protagonists? Because there comes a time when you do not even notice the extras, because you know that they will not tell you anything, it's another one.
He has a very French photograph, there is no photograph. The light of the moment that the camera captures.
The address, it is as if he did not realize that he has already told me what he is telling me. It makes a long, very long film. Of course, decide at a certain time that you will move the camera and simulate changing the sequence from one patient to another. Well at least try to do something nice with the camera.
For me a movie that says nothing
Being a doctor, the main protagonist has no personality as such, subordinating his feelings, prejudices, moods to the needs of his patients, an observer, or critic, rather than a player. This blankness in the film's centre is acknowledged at the beginning as an aural montage over the black of the credits and for much of the opening scenes gives us the villagers' physical complaints and opinions of the doctor, robbing this man, who has such power over their lives, of his own narrative power - all the more surprising since, after all, the film is named after him.
The only way he can become a person, to stop being a literal object of others' creation, is to become a subject, to create himself, to write, which he does copiously, spilling out the emotions initially denied him in boxes of diaries and dictaphone tapes, eventually deciding to write the book 'La Maladie de Sachs', the film we're watching. Like the year's best films, 'Le Temps Retrouve' and 'Mansfield Park', this is a portrait of the artist, about the act of creation, its genesis and transformative power.
After all, a doctor is another kind of artist, as Chekhov, Bulgakov, Celine, William Carlos Williams all show: combining the detached and analytic with a rare access to a variety of humanity stripped of pretension, the body brought back to an identity that would deny it. Like 'Wonder Boys', the closing revelation asks us to re-interpret what we've just seen, the status of the narrative.
This power to write, to take control of his own life, is linked to Sachs' finally 'settling down' with a woman; becoming a writer AND a man. With the promise of a family to come - along with the book (and the film), two kinds of fertility. The relationship between Sachs and the very lovely Pauline is so appealing, that I won't humbug this move from abortion clinic to family planning.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this film, which passes along pleasantly enough. It's the kind of thing called 'character-driven', an implicitly superior form of cinema to 'action' narrative, in the same way that the best kind of book is a psychological novel. It's more true and lifelike, apparently. As 'Death in a French Garden' and 'La Lectrice' suggested, Deville has a very post-modern interest in investigating the very meaning and purpose of traditional stories. Despite naming Sachs' housekeeper Mrs. Borges, though, there's no getting around the fact that this film begins with a profusion of voices, a decentring of the doctor's authority (which is nearly religious - he is confessor, as well as healer - the bells toll at one point - he is the only connection in a community that doesn't seem to talk to itself (even within the same family). He even passes judgement and offers advice in the way priests used to, although he is refreshingly tolerant) and ends with a monolithic voice: HIS book with HIS name.
The relentless focus on one man as revealed through his work suggests paralells with Melville's 'cinema of process', but, I'm not ashamed to admit it: I LIKE PLOTS! The disturbing flashbacks, which seem to qualify the doctor's saintliness, are the best bits in a very literary film.
First and foremost, this movie shares a little bit with your generic cop shows, where you know that no matter how complex the murder, how many red herrings are caught, you are confident that by the end of 60 minutes (less commercials), the murderer will be caught, will have confessed, and all loose ends tied up. This show has a little bit of that. The interactions with the patients are too smoooth, too glib, too easy. For example, one doesn't turn an angry teenage girl into a model compassionate and understanding child in one 10-minute session, no matter how good one is.
Secondly, it is little colourless (I mean literally!), I thought. Is provincial France really that dreary? I kinda doubt it.
But yes, a good film overall. Not great, but good.
There's one phrase that lingered after the film was over: (Lonely woman that goes on a Sunday and starts sobbing): "I'm sorry, I'm not sick". Doctor: "But you're in pain".
The film is OK, quite funny at times, but, honestly speaking, I never understood one bit of Docteur Bruno Sachs, let alone of his alleged sickness. The ending didn't help. His love interest was cold as must be winter in rural France. I can't say I liked the film, but will pass it to my doctor and cousins who study medicine, I suppose it'll make them laugh, at least the accumulation of different, seemingly endless ailments that the human species can produce, bodily and otherwise.
I agree with wombat_1 from Sydney that the movie is stereotyped, but in the particular example he quotes, at least I understood it was a one hour interview. In fact, the grouchy mum even complains: "he charged me 2 sessions, but ...". To Gabriel Rocha from Barcelona, the musical score is Jean-Fery Rebel's "Élements" by Musiqua Antiqua Koln by R. Goebel on DG. There' a tiny sound bit on You Tube, it's the 1st movement, but IMDb doesn't let me quote a long link... (The CD is on Amazon, can't give it x the same motif.
I agree with daniel-charles2 that there's no action, no "anything", and too that it nevertheless it succeeds. But disagree on his "you need perfect French and local knowledge to get this film". I don't understand French well at all, and I don't know any of the local habits. Nevertheless I think I understood the gist of this film thou.
Alice Liddel's "numbing sameness" is very accurate, and her postmodern interpretation is brilliant. Nevertheless her insight that the housekeeper is named Borges doesn't lead her to the text where he speaks about the value of both kinds of literature, the "character" (for instance, H. James) and "action". I agree that it's a very literary film, but didn't like neither the flashbacks and even less the two "family traumas" he indulges in all the film (his dad's reassuring wristwatch, and why he doesn't want to have children) the only moments in which we see "the man behind the mask of the profession". I agree with her again they tend to "make a saint of him", and he's like a priest who confesses more than "only" practicing a trade.
Enjoy while not pretending to get "full blown cinema".