Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 1:41 pm 
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Jean-Paul Civeyrac: Through the Forest/À travers la forêt (France 2005) 65 minutes. No US distributor. Shown at the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, October 2 2005.


Not enough to say

Shot in wide aspect ratio with pale amber filters, Civeyrac's new film is a myth or elegant fable whose subjects are three pretty girls and a pretty boy. The main character is Armelle (Camille Berthomier), chattering naked on a bed in the first image of the film (in which there are just ten shots, set off by chapter headings), where we glimpse only the well-formed naked butt of her lover Reynaud (Aurélien Wiik). Suddenly the room darkens, a storm rumbles, and Armelle can't understand why. In the next shot Reynaud has died in an accident and Armelle's two other dark-haired sisters, Roxanne (Margane Hainaux) and Bérénice (Alice Dubuisson) are trying to talk Armelle into accepting her lover's death. One accompanies her to see a medium, whereupon a Reynaud lookalike, Hippolyte (also Aurélien Wiik) appears. Armelle next has awoken from a coma, apparently brought on by taking pills, and now she may have acquired special powers -- including the ability to draw Hippolyte away from another woman to kiss her instead. In the last shot, Armelle, alone again, goes to Reynaud, whom she hears calling her from inside a forest. This new film by Civeyrac is beautiful, elegant, and classically French, evoking Cocteau more than Rohmer. But treating its heavy theme of suffering and loss in a manner that's equivocal, even frivolous, and being after all only sixty-five minutes long, this latest work by the little-known director, who teaches in a prestigious French film school, feels tantalizing and incomplete.

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