Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. France/Italy/Germany, 2001. Pierre Grise Productions, France 2 Cinema, V.M. Productions, Mikado Film, Kinowelt Filmproduktion, Canal+, Cofimage 12, Gimages 4, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Eurimages, Procirep. Scenario by Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent, Jacques Rivette, dialogue by Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent. Cinematography by William Lubtchansky. Produced by Martine Marignac. Production Design by Emmanuel de Chauvigny. Costume Design by Laurence Struz. Film Editing by Nicole Lubtchansky. Cannes Film Festival 2001.
Jacques Rivette’s films are so subtle as to be practically undetectable, but if you allow them to suck you in with their realistic acting and natural pacing, you’ll reap their many rewards. Less daring viewers, however, will be appalled at his idea of what constitutes a romantic comedy in this beautifully rich film, a combination of art-house style and classic French bedroom farce. Camille, a disillusioned actress, returns to Paris for the first time in three years to perform in a production of Luigi Pirandello’s As You Like Me, while wondering about her relationship with her Italian boyfriend/director Ugo. He, in turn, is looking for a missing Goldoni manuscript that he discovers might be hidden somewhere in the private collection of a Parisian’s woman library, a process which gets him well acquainted with the woman’s beautiful daughter Dominique. Dominique’s brother Arthur is a thief who is having an affair with Sonia, who is dating Pierre, who has just reconnected with Camille after she left him so abruptly three years earlier. Rivette’s direction is superb, and the climax is a delightfully satisfying treat.