Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/Luxembourg/France/Italy, 2001. United Artists, American Zoetrope, Delux Productions, Luxembourg Film Fund, CQ Productions, Sawyer Productions. Screenplay by Roman Coppola. Cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman. Produced by Gary Marcus. Music by Pierre Begon-Lours, Stephane Luginbuhl, Mellow, Patrick Woodcock. Production Design by Dean Tavoularis. Costume Design by Judy Shrewsbury. Film Editing by Leslie Jones.
It’s 1969, and an American film editor (Jeremy Davies) living in Paris is working on the troubled set of a Barbarella-like science-fiction film. The director (Gerard Depardieu) has passionate aims for his story, while the maniacal producer (Giancarlo Giannini) wants sex and violence in a marketable format. Strife ensues, much of it arising from the director’s obsession with the leading actress (Angela Lindvall), and soon the wannabe-auteur is fired. The replacement, a low-budget director (Jason Schwartzman) with a penchant for starlets, is also soon put out of commission, so the task falls upon Davies to complete the project. In the meanwhile, our hero is also filming a personal documentary about his own home life that includes his volatile relationship with his girlfriend (Élodie Bouchez). Director Roman Coppola (Francis Ford’s son, making his feature debut) has fashioned an intoxicating ride through a European yesteryear, one that often feels as exotic and exciting as the film within a film being made (memories of Godard abound). Coppola is a veritably talented newcomer, a filmmaker who can hardly turn a corner on one of his convincingly retro-sixties sets without showing us something beautiful while also including outstanding scenes of drama like one seen here between Davies and his father, played by Dean Stockwell. A must-see for film buffs (particularly fans of Fellini’s 8 ½ and Truffaut’s Day For Night), this has been hailed as a future cult classic but I think its appeal is much broader than that. Of trivial note, John Phillip Law, who starred in the original Barbarella, appears in the mock science-fiction film here.