Modern day adaptation of a section of Proust's magnum opus that is true enough to the book in its theme and events and interestingly has the Marcel character still sunk in an archaic, aristocratic world.
KD Lang lookalike Stanislas Merhar does a good job doing the insulated, emotional (and physical) frailty, trapped in an adolescent infatuation of towering poetic naivety, all the while consumed with jealousy by the suspicion that his live-in girlfriend is an active lesbian behind his back.
It's slow. There's a lot of prowling around his creaking Paris apartment, lots of talking in cars - we seem to be taking entire journeys in real time. Akerman gave herself an easy directing job. The use of classical music is lazy - Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata is suitably Proustian, but Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead is absurdly melodramatic, especially when played incongruously, Godard-fashion, over serene images.
Those familiar with the writer and director can easily pull back the gauze to reveal the real issues - an inverted couple struggling to maintain a hetero relationship - but that is so superficial it hardly seems worth special effort and the film works better with the ambiguity in place (as intended), with the implication that naivety (misunderstanding, confusion) is at the root of jealous passion. The Marcel character is so naïve that in the sex scenes he doesn't even know that he is supposed to put it in - doing the movements without getting undressed (he's in bed in his overcoat in one scene). That was strangely tragic, and although it may have been a stylisation to symbolise their failure to connect, it was easier to take it literally.
With liberties like that though, and done so earnestly, it's craves some indulgence. The worst problem is that the girl is comatose and unattractive, showing nothing of Albertine's sprightliness and guile that gave that character her painful duplicity. The ending too is a disappointment.
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