Wednesday, June 21, 2017

L'Eau froide (Olivier Assayas, 1994)

Beautiful and enthralling. My knowledge of Assayas is not extensive. Irma Vep I thought very good, Personal Shopper interesting but ultimately unsuccessful, and Clouds of Sils Maria increasingly obvious and increasingly irritating as it mined deeper and deeper into an exhausted seam. But here the mix of cinematography, "hip" early-seventies music, elliptical but not obscure narrative, and sensitive characterisations/performances won me over almost entirely. The scene where the bong gets passed round is a beautiful image of community in/through isolation, and weirdly reminded me of the sleep/dream sequence in the abandoned house in Tarr's Satantango. The person I saw this with saw only cliché and nostalgia, but the warmth and subtlety of the film means I wholly disagreed. I was just reading Robin Wood on Howard Hawks and a little irritated by his claim that High Noon is nothing but cliché, whereas Rio Bravo - despite its abundance of stock character and situations - contains "no clichés". I would still prefer to speak about different uses of cliché, but after watching L'Eau froide I feel I know more what he meant.

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