This one’s more polished and assured than Disorder but feels no less personal or exploratory even. This one again starts off with a robbery but this time around, it’s an even younger teenage couple stealing records seemingly in an act of banal teenage rebellion. Unfortunately the girl is caught and the film mutates into something darker as sadder as it exposes the inevitable chasm between the kids and their parents’ generations.
The first half is perhaps not as dynamic as the second half, but it still has one of the most revealing scenes of the unbridgeable gap that can sometimes exists between parents and kids. The young boy, Giles, and his father are having a civil, polite conversation that could so easily be a warm tender moment. The father is sharing his very emotional response to Caravaggio’s “Death of the Virgin”. We soon realize that the discussion on art was but a gateway for the father to bring up the boy’s performance at school and instantly, the moment of potential tenderness and connection is ruptured. It’s a film in which almost no one seems to be really listening to the other person except for the brief moments of connection between Giles and Christine and even they are not always honest with each other.
The second half of the film is just an utter delight. Assayas pretty much abandons dialogue altogether and situates the rest of film in a kind of idyllic youth island where a group of teenagers are having a party. They dance, smoke pot, make out and eventually start a rather big bonfire as CCR, Janis Joplin, Alice Cooper, Donovan and Guns N Roses play in the background. The diversity in music picks just adds to the authenticity of the scene.. as if different people are walking towards the record player and switching out records in between. It’s a really great scene but the highlight for me was the two young lovers hiding away as Nico’s “Janitor of Lunacy” plays hauntingly in the background while the adults come looking for the runaways and we hear the sound of gunshots and shattered glass over the music.
The most poignant thing about the film is the realization that the kids are trying to run away not just from the specific adults and authority figures in their life but from adulthood itself. In one single scene between Christina’s mother and Giles, it’s easy to see why Christina is willing to stake everything to avoid end up bitter and resentful like her mother. Electricity and running water seems like a small sacrifice in that scheme of things.
A charming, lovely apology letter of a film. In the film, an aspiring filmmaker (a stand-in for Ceylan presumably) goes back to the town where he grew up and coaxes his family members into appearing in his first film. The filmmaker is so intently focused on trying to get his film made that he’s mostly oblivious both to the gorgeous surroundings as well as the real life problems that his family members are facing and attempting to talk to him about. The dedication to Chekhov is apropos and Ceylan, like Chekhov, portrays the clash between family as a unit and the aspirations and concerns of each individual member. Ceylan portrays every other character with great tenderness but is pretty harshly self-critical. He seems to be seriously grappling with questions that seems pretty central to his own pursuit of art. How far is he allowed to go with letting his concerns as an artist override the very human concerns of those surrounding him? Is an artist trying to plumb autobiographical material and family for his films inherently self-serving?
For all these tough questions that the film seems to be asking, it’s also full of humor. We know the mother will appear in the film ultimately but she never stops nagging the son about finding other actors in her place. In just a few scenes with the little kid, Ceylan takes us back to our memories of the very first lies we learnt to tell. Owes something to Through the Olive Trees as well.
This might be the funniest of the Chabrol films I’ve watched so far. I’m starting to observe a lot of sly humor in these movies even beyond the writing and the always hilarious family dinners. For instance, I love how the little kid (who plays Jean Yanne’s son) in Que la Bête Meure bears a much more striking resemblance to Duchaussoy and here again, Bonnaire and Huppert look so much like each other that even in the early parts of the film, before Huppert really appears on screen (and the narrative pushes us towards this comparison), I found myself noticing just how much Bonnaire looks like her.
The more typical Chabrol humor I’ve now gotten accustomed to is present too with the bourgeois family getting all dressed up just to watch opera on the television! And the shot where the camera pans up to the two women standing on the stairs looking down at the family is just glorious. Wicked movie.