If what Louis Armstrong said about music--good music is whatever sounds good--can be applied to the visual, then ODILE & YVETTE AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD ranks as fabulous. It looks great; American-born, Paris-educated painter and video artist Andre Burke imbues his feature debut with all
the physical beauty celluloid can capture, even as the symbolic story line grows more and more obtuse.
Odile (Karen Skloss) and Yvette (Heather Roheim), adolescent sisters in the back of their father's station wagon during a road trip, share guarded looks and whispers while their dad babbles unintelligibly out of the frame. When Yvette commands "Now!" The girls bolt the vehicle into the verdant
countryside. Father (Kim Mundy) follows, lamely calling after them. Soon it's clear that he can't even see his daughters anymore and gropes past, oblivious to their presence. "Don't worry, he can't cross over," says Yvette, who urges Odile onward, through rocks, hills and gnarled thickets, to a
promised land of happiness and pleasure, where wishes come true. It holds a green forest and river grotto, an abandoned but comfortable house--and a boy, Johnny (Noah Fisher), who arouses passion in both the girls and eventually sets them against each other. Odile moves into the house and thinks
longingly of her late mother's grave. Finally, the girls "kill" the faithless Johnny, whose body immediately fades away; evidently, he was just a wish that didn't work out. Yvette has said that if they stay in this realm past sunset they will never be able to leave. Odile and Yvette hastily
retrace their steps as the landscape grows dark and moody, though they don't seem interested in returning to the car.
Its title echoes 1974's CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING, also a dense, avant-garde allegory of dawning adulthood and fading innocence. ODILE & YVETTE is notably shorter and a shade more accessible, even if many viewers are likely to write it off as an elaborate indulgence. Some scenes play with
continuity and visual perception seemingly for mere trickery's sake (a red ball rolling downhill from the heroines in one scene reappears rolling past them from uphill in the subsequent shot), while more prosaic twists on logic include Yvette repeatedly producing fresh food and exotic objects from
her absurdly small valise, evoking a dreamlike atmosphere in which conscious and unconscious desires indeed become real, even a flesh-and-blood teen idol. But a slow, studied pace, rare and enigmatic dialogue and deliberate vagueness (right down to which of the unself-conscious actresses is
supposed to be Odile and which is Yvette) make this fantasy narrative an acquired taste. Chris Squire's magical-realist cinematography, beginning with multicolored patterns in a kaleidoscope, dazzles the eye with color, form and clarity. Although officially a British production, ODILE & YVETTE AT
THE EDGE OF THE WORLD was filmed entirely in south central Texas, on remarkably versatile terrain. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1994
- Review: If what Louis Armstrong said about music--good music is whatever sounds good--can be applied to the visual, then ODILE & YVETTE AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD ranks as fabulous. It looks great; American-born, Paris-educated painter and video artist Andre Burke i… (more)