Sunday, August 05, 2018

L'Eau froide

1994, France, directed by Olivier Assayas

A formative film for me, one I saw originally on the big screen in November 1994, and it was as impressive as I recalled, the large screen really enhancing the immersive experience, particularly in the lengthy, and quite extraordinary, party sequence. It's interesting, though, how the memory plays tricks -- that sequence looms so large in my mind that I had forgotten just how much of the film precedes it, and how much additional detail we get on the lives of the protagonists. I had forgotten entire sections, too, such as the extended scene in the police station where Virginie Ledoyen speaks with Jean-Pierre Darroussin (indeed, I had no recollection that the actor was in the film). The film is incredibly rich in detail, feeling very much of that post-1968 moment in which it is set -- the challenge to parental and social authorities (schools, doctors), the integration of various immigrant populations, the hints at the desirability of a return to the land, the apparent hopelessness of youth in the Pompidou years, etc. There are details of performance and filming structure, too, that make a big impression -- the repetition of the motif of handing something from one hand to another (records, money, a hash pipe), the way that Jackie Berroyer fretfully holds his hands together, even the contrast between how young and old dress and interact, as well as the bone-deep chill of the weather (people putting on coats even inside, never mind in the frigid final sequences). 

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States