Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 3:00 pm 
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MIA HANSEN-LOVE: ALL IS FORGIVEN/TOUT EST PARDONNÉ (2007) - 1st US theatrical release from Metrograph Nov. 2021


Hansen-Løve's film about life before and after addiction still shines

She is French, despite the exotic name. She is 40. From age 21 to age 36 she was with director Olivier Assayas (Demon Lover, Clean, Summer Hours). Now, Metrograph is bringing out a reissue of this, her precocious debut feature, made when she was 26. It's the only one of her films I haven't reviewed, and, having just rewatched it, one of the best, showing a clearly defined style and point of view. I recommend that you watch it, and avoid her latest, the Cannes Competition selection, Bergman Island, which is a bore (and in English). This one is in German and French. It concerns a little family, moving back and forth from Vienna to Paris, wracked by the drug addiction and wasted life of Victor, the young French father (Paul Blain), at the expense of his Austrian wife Annette (Marie-Christine Friedrich) and their little daughter, Pamela (then played by Victoire Rousseau), who leave Victor and return to Vienna.

Like all her best works, this one is about what time does and to illustrate its point it leaps ahead in the middle a number of years, to a second part where Pamela is a young women (now played by the luminous Constance Rousseau) who doesn't remember much about the time with her father and wants to see him again. Word is out that he's around, still in Paris and okay now. The second half focuses mostly on the meetings of Victor and Pamela.

The way the film casually accumulates a sense of Victor's disintegrating life shows an easy command of the medium. Hansen-Løve makes no effort to age Victor for his reappearance 15 years later, no realism in that way. Paul Blain is a loose vessel to contain the changing Victor, appearing weak, dissolute, and despairing one time and fresh and blooming another.

Hansen-Løve's second feature is my other favorite, The Father of My Children/Le Père de mes enfants. The first film is dedicated to Humbert Balsan, the immense sponsor and promotor of young gifted filmmakers both French and Middle Eastern, who ended his own life at age 50. This film's two parts are about the last days of Balsan and then the life of his family after he is gone. In both of these films as in Things to Come/L'Avenir (starring Isabelle Huppert) about a middle-aged professor facing a host of life's hard knocks, there is a lot to take in because of the concentration of events, but there is an elegance in the way the filmmaker coolly takes them on. And in the first film this capacity seems already fully formed. My initial reaction was reserved - "This first film is a sincere and creditable effort that promises quality work to come, but it does not overwhelm" - but over the years and in the light of her best subsequent work, it's become more significant. Mia Hansen-Løve is one of the must-see directors of French cinema of the past two decades, and her debut film is now clearly not to be missed.

Tout est pardoné, 105 mins., debuted at Cannes May 2007 as part of the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Director's Fortnight). Opening theatrically in France in September, it got very good reviews (Allociné press rating 3.9, with raves from Cahiers du Cinéma, Le Monde and Les Inrockuptibles). Screened by me originally at MK2 Hautefeuille in Paris, October 2007; rewatched on a home screener in Nov., 2021. Opens theatrically and digitally exclusively at Metrograph NYC Nov. 5, 2021; opens nationwide Nov. 19. Current Metacritic rating (based on 6 reviews): 85%.

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