September 16th, 2008

Gang of Four

Four young women are rooming together in an old house in the Paris suburbs. Another comes and goes like a hunted hare. The house is haunted. All five belong to an exclusive, all female, theatre workshop where they endlessly rehearse a play by Marivaux, never getting to the end, constantly swapping roles. Their teacher drives them hard. An older man infiltrates their shared life, bringing with him a stale air of lies and crime and political corruption.

Well, I like this sort of film. I like it because it doesn't have car chases or explosions or CGI. I like it because it's in French. I like it because it doesn't have the three act structure. I like it because it sends me away going "Hmmmmm".

Rivette made one of my all-time favourite films- Celine and Julie go Boating. This is very much the same sort of thing. Female leads? Check. Mystery and unease? Check.  Ghosts? Check- and so on down the list. The difference is that C&J is youthful and exuberant and this isn't.

I don't really know what's going on. I accessed an online review, barked my shins against the word "ontology" and clicked out again. People who think they can explain art by using words like "ontology" do us all a dis-service.

Actually, on second thoughts, I don't want to know what's going on. Or- to put it another way- what's going on is what's going on. The dilapidated, suburban house, the exclusive theatre workshop, the band of four, the enigmatic intruder- these aren't metaphors for something else. They are what they are. And the world that contains them sort of holds together, but is also full of loopholes and paths not taken and unexplained somethings- much like the world that contains the film.

Which makes Rivette a realist, I think.

Brief Update

My father-in-law feels so well after yesterday's trip to hospital that he's driving round in his car today.

Yes, I'm shaking my head in disbelief too.

Sameena's baby is a boy. They're calling him Hassam.