One of the surprising things I’ve found in trying to write about this film five days after seeing it, is how much of it has already eluded my memory. I don’t necessarily think that’s the film’s fault entirely, but it feels appropriate in that it’s a film of fleeting feelings conveyed in jagged little domestic scenes both outside along city streets or in the tiny garret apartment inhabited by Louis (Louis Garrel) and his lover Claudia (the gorgeous and stylish Anna Mouglalis). Both are struggling actors (she is out of work), and as the film starts Louis has just separated from his wife, a silent and initially perplexing series of shots as seen from their daughter’s point of view. The way the film progresses is in further bursts, that gradually make clear Louis’s own fecklessness — though he loves his daughter, he is very much wrapped up in himself, and we see him frequently flirting with other women. However, as the film progresses, it’s revealed that both are unhappy in their own ways, and Claudia too has her own disappointments and dalliances, though as the film focuses itself around Louis and his daughter, we only hear about these in retrospect, as Louis learns of them. What sustains this evanescent little relationship drama is the fine acting and the assured control director Philippe Garrel exercises, with some restrained use of well-chosen musical cues, not to mention the stunning black-and-white cinematography.
Director Philippe Garrel; Writers Marc Cholodenko, Caroline Deruas-Garrel, Garrel and Arlette Langmann; Cinematographer Willy Kurant; Starring Louis Garrel, Anna Mouglalis; Length 77 minutes.
Seen at Ciné Lumière, London, Wednesday 23 July 2014.