29.8.11

Three Colours: Blue

Ian McEwan's Saturday follows a well-off surgeon for a day around London, and stuff happens, some very dull (squash), some quite exciting (assault). Oh, and that day is the 15th of February 2003 -- the massive protest march against the invasion of Iraq. Now, the reader is supposed to spot the connections -- obv the surgeon's story is some allegory for the workings of international politics. But as is usual with McEwan, you never know exactly what THE POINT is supposed to be. Personally, I don't mind so much. Whenever I've read anything by him, I could always cobble together some meaning for myself (which is what it's all about, right?). Also I forget said POINT almost immediately (don't ask me to explain Saturday. All I remember is that the references to Hobbes were supposed to contrast with the surgeon's decision at the end of the book. Or something. It probably involved religion or gender -- it usually does with me.) With McEwan, the journey was always worth it anyway, particularly the early fucked-up stuff. Not so much with Saturday tho. Saturday was pretty shit...

ANYWAY. This film reminded me of Saturday only because ostensibly it's set out to be a comment on the blue bit of the french flag: liberty. But then we spend all of our time hanging out with a widow processing her grief. The connection? Beats me! OK not really, because I have books and the internet to explain to me that the film swaps the political for the personal, navigating the contours of the chazm between liberty // love. Love makes you unfree: that shot with the reflection in the eye. You can't see for yourself anymore, you see through others. It's all a bit Rousseau, actually. ((Ah philosophy! Gotta be useful for something!)) And as the film's finale sings to us: love >>> everything else.

But really, I would have preferred it if Kieślowski had called this film something else, so it didn't have all this misleading baggage which doesn't add anything and merely distracts away from the otherwise quite beautiful story of someone learning to live and feel again. A lot of this is on Binoche, who does a marvelous job being by turns icy and vulnerable. I'm also sort of impressed by the sex-worker character, who didn't seem to be shaped by creepy male fantasies (call bullshit on this please, if you think otherwise). Actually, all the characters were handled elegantly. This film cuts the crap right out, so that every line is from the heart. That's refreshing. I liked everyone I met.

David Thomson hits on something when he describes this movie's 'pride and humourlessness' as 'crushing'. The story and themes do not reach Magnolia-size (BTW pretty much my fave non-genre film, I think). And yet Kieślowski is obv going for that level of grandness. It's a bit pretentious, in other words. Quite literally.

Did I just call a French art-house movie pretentious? Welcome to the Hothouse, friends! Sweltering with original insights and controversial opinions!

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