Chances are you've never seen a film quite like Léos Carax's extravagant folly. A labor of love for star Juliette Binoche and her then-boyfriend Carax, this fascinating failure was years in the making, went wildly overbudget and was a box office disaster
in France. A bedraggled Binoche plays Michele, an artist who's losing her sight. Michele falls in love with scruffy, homeless, alcoholic fire-eater Alex (Denis Lavant), who's temporarily set up camp on Paris's oldest bridge, the Pont-Neuf, while it's being renovated for the French Bicentennial.
The exquisite Binoche is forced to fall love with ratboy love really is blind. Michele and Alex's lovers' idyll comes to an abrupt but foreseeable end when Michele's parents step up their efforts to find their daughter; Alex's response to the possibility of losing her is Carax's way
of exploring the question "Is love a redemptive force or a destructive one?" Carax encourages his leads to experiment, yielding laughably self-indulgent performances. And it's his style to shoot a scene at a homeless shelter, suggesting that he's aiming for a verité approach to street life,
then switch to gratuitous glorification of the down-and-out existence. Carax's paean to freedom and love comes closest to achieving a state of grace in its middle section: The scenes in which his ecstatic, completely inebriated lovers dance as the skies are illuminated by fireworks, followed by
the amazing sight of Binoche water-skiing behind a stolen powerboat, are unique and bizarre. But exquisite visual stylist and brilliant cinematic "emoter" though he may be, Carax's storytelling is weak. Of course, storytelling isn't really the point. With his near monomaniacal tunnel vision and
visual ostentation, you get the feeling that he's most interested in winning the title "prodigal heir to Godard." Carax moves the camera well, but doesn't mean he'll move you.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: Chances are you've never seen a film quite like Léos Carax's extravagant folly. A labor of love for star Juliette Binoche and her then-boyfriend Carax, this fascinating failure was years in the making, went wildly overbudget and was a box office disaster… (more)