At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
October continues the François Truffaut series at Alliance Française. November, Alain Resnais.
At Alliance Française on Friday, October 30: La femme d'à côté / The Woman Next Door (1981) by François Truffaut – 106 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews:77 out of 100.
With Fanny Ardant, Gérard Dépardieu, Henri Garcin.
Bernard and Arlette live in the country with their young son. One day a couple comes to live next door. The wife turns out to be a woman with whom Bernard has had a passionate love affair in the past and she does everything she can to start things up again. But will their reunion be a happy one?
– Alliance description
Rotten Tomatoes: Bernard Coudray has established a comfortable and settled existence near Grenoble with his wife and child. However, everything begins to disintegrate when the house next door to the Coudrays' is purchased by Mathilde and Philippe Bauchard. Many years ago, Bernard and Mathilde had a tortuous love affair, and when the two meet again, they can't help but renew their desire. As their spouses become aware of the infidelity, they do whatever possible to separate the lovers... even if it may lead to death.
John Nesbit: The Woman Next Door opened to generally positive reviews in 1981, and it holds up remarkably well today although the ending now seems unnecessary and cliché after numerous other films have adopted similar finales over the past twenty years. A simple story, it retains dramatic tension as details are gradually revealed and Truffaut mines the natural acting prowess of his leading lovers to great effect. Although he put great energy into structuring a workable plot, the real gifts of the film lie in its strong character development and memorable emotional connections that Ardant and Dépardieu create.
In November the Alliance Française turns to the work of Alain Resnais.
At Alliance Française on Friday, November 6: Hiroshima mon amour / Hiroshima, My Love (1959) by Alain Resnais – 91 mins – France/ Japan, Drama/ Romance/ War. English subtitles. B&W. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 84 out of 100.
With Emmanuele Riva, Eiji Okada, Bernard Fresson.
For one day and one night, a French woman and a Japanese man love each other with a burning intensity. And her discovery of Hiroshima, the horror of atomic warfare, brings back to her the memories of a love affair in France with a young German soldier…
– Alliance description
Rotten Tomatoes: In AlainResnais's artistic adaptation of Marguerite Duras's Hiroshima mon amour, a French actress working in Japan meets a Japanese architect with whom she has an affair. Their relationship consists largely of conversations about the bombing at Hiroshima, the horrors that he and his family endured, and her perception of it back home in occupied France. With a camera that operates sometimes like a slide show, other times like a space vessel--switching easily in and out of flashbacks and gently blending footage of both Japan and France--the story unfolds more like a collection of memories than a chronological narrative. Perhaps the most dramatic scene is the unforgettable opener: An impeccably beautiful close-up in black and white depicts lovers writhing first in the ash of bomb fallout, which is washed away by rain, then, as their skin dries, they begin to perspire from making love. She--the nameless female lead (Emmanuele Riva)--remembers everything of the war. But He--the nameless male lead (Eiji Okada)--challenges her to determine if what she remembers is real or just a projection. As with most Marguerite Duras novels, it's hard to determine exactly what happened and what didn't. Hiroshima mon amour is truly like a poem, using the emotional words of Duras to propel Resnais's ultra powerful images.
At Alliance Française on Friday, November 13: L'année dernière à Marienbad / Last Year at Marienbad (1961) by Alain Resnais & Alain Robbe-Grillet – 94 mins – France/ Italy, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. B&W. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 88 out of 100.
With DelphineSeyrig, GiorgioAlbertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff, Françoise Bertin.
In a baroque, fairytale château, a man turns up to keep an appointment promised to a woman the year before. Yet, although the woman is there, she doesn’t remember. The man sets out to win her back through a labyrinth of gold and marble where time seems to stand still...
– Alliance description
Rotten Tomatoes: Elegantly enigmatic and dreamlike, this work of essential cinema features exquisite cinematography and an exploration of narrative still revisited by filmmakers today.
In Alain Resnais's masterwork, L'année dernière à Marienbad, each fantasy-laden, heavily dramatized, aesthetically perfect scene is dictated by the memories of a man (Giorgio Albertazzi), who is one of many elegant, aristocratic guests vacationing at the enchanting resort, Marienbad. Because the story consists of foggy memories that may or may not be accurate, the film unrolls like a repetitious dream. In the opening sequences, the man describes the immensity and silence of the lavishly decorated baroque hotel as the camera roams its empty hallways. Soon after, the hotel guests appear, assembled for a theater production inside the hotel. Like the actors in the play, the characters in the film make it obvious that they are also playing established roles and reciting lines. Sometimes they simply pose as the camera passes over them, while at other times, they stand like statues, trying to remember what happened last year. They amuse themselves with parlor games, ballroom waltzes, target practice in the shooting gallery, and strolls through the garden. Meanwhile, the man establishes the abstract plot about a love affair he began last year with a woman (Delphine Seyrig), reconstructed from his partial memories. She remembers nothing of the affair, not even the man's name. In fact, most of the guests cannot even recall the year in which these things might have happened--was it 1928 or 29? Each of Resnais's sets is more remarkable than the one before, as are the costumes by Chanel. Emphatic organ music drums up a fury of suspense as the actors' performances become increasingly overdramatized and unnatural, mocking the meaningless aristocratic resort activity they're depicting, while also epitomizing it. The climax comes in a famous sequence--which repeats itself about 10 times in a row--in which the camera races down the corridor into the embrace of the woman, who is clad in a birdlike white feather gown. Like a Marguerite Duras poem trapped inside an M.C. Escher drawing, Resnais's L'année dernière à Marienbad is a film that stands alone, unique in its dialogue, architecture, style, and its deeply effective, sweeping mood.