Around A Small Mountain (2009)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

Original title:  36 vues du Pic Saint Loup

France/Italy, 2009.  , , Rai Cinema, , , , , , , Procirep.  Screenplay by Jacques Rivette, , , , , dialogue by Pascal Bonitzer.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

 drives by ‘s stalled car and helps her get back on the road, following her to a small village where the circus that she performs with is doing shows to meager audiences and poor business.  He befriends members of the troupe and uncovers old family secrets, learning that Birkin has only recently rejoined them after having been rejected years earlier by her late father.  Castellitto’s involvement with these characters is so deep that he eventually finds himself on stage, just part of the process of putting a broken situation back together in what will turn out to be the last completed film by the great Jacques Rivette.

The whole setup is rife for the kind of magic that the master filmmaker does so well, particularly in scenes involving the subtle charms of the circus clowns, but there’s no mystery about the characters’ secrets or anything charming about their interactions with each other.  Even the fact that the film runs a mere 86 minutes (a short subject compared to most of Rivette’s weighty works) speaks to an awareness on the filmmakers’ part that the experiment did not come off.  Birkin and Castellitto are both terrific but generate little heat between them, and the overall effect is limp.

Venice Film Festival:  In Competition


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