Thursday, January 12, 2006

KINGS AND QUEEN (Arnaud Desplechin, 2004)

I started up a Netflix account. Last night, via said service, I watched a DVD of Arnaud Desplechin's KINGS AND QUEEN. This is a long French movie about a woman who seems to have it all together but turns out to be a wreck and her ex-husband, who seems to be a wreck but turns out to be OK. That much you can get from the first ten minutes or so and the following 140 minutes is just the thing playing out, separated for no particular reason into three or four chapters with title cards.

This has been getting major love from some critics I respect, but I found it to be rather sub-revelatory and tedious, and full of scenes meticulously sprinkled with "quirkiness" that play out as just stupid. (E.g. the "accident" with the gun, the convenience-store robbery, Ismael getting committed, the fact that he's a classical musician who also listens to rap, etc.) Actually, a lot of the scenes that aren't particularly quirky are pretty stupid, too. And I'm sorry, but cross-cutting between two stories and a few jump cuts doesn't turn you into the second coming of Truffaut.

It also bugs me that everyone in the movie is an artist of some sort; she's a curator at a museum, her ex is a violist, and her father is a writer. Not that there's anything wrong with that per se, but it struck me as just being there as a modern version of the whole Aristotelian idea that we won't care about the characters unless they're noblemen. In certain French movies, it seems, the characters are writers or musicians or sculptors or whatever not because the movie has anything to say about writing or music or art, but just because it's shorthand for the character being "creative" or "passionate" or simply "somebody you should spend two and a half hours with in a theatre, rather than all those other poor schlubs."

Catherine Deneuve 6
Maurice Garrel 2 (UN COUER EN HIVER)


At Friday, January 27, 2006 at 2:49:00 AM PST, Blogger sonia said...

That's one boring film! Anything with Catherine Deneuve made after 1980 is, by definition, boring as hell. Want to see exciting French flicks, rent Irreversible, or Baise-moi, or anything by Francois Ozon...


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