Over the years, I have read so many articles on Out 1, and have seen so many stills from it, that I felt as though I'd already seen the movie. Out 1 already existed for me in such a big way, that finally watching it could only lead to disappointment. Sadly, this was the case. As great as Out 1's legend is, for me it never comes together. It's all promise unfulfilled.
There are Holy Grail movies: Films written and talked about in reverential tones, yet largely unavailable to the public. Until recently, "Out 1" was one of these, and having lived with its legend for many years, I was giddy the day it showed up on Netflix. An eight-part film totaling about 13 hours? I was binge-ready! Unfortunately, it took only about half way thru the first segment for my enthusiasm to wane.
But oh is it ever ambitious, and almost every concept and character that we are introduced to is inherently interesting. One example is in how two different acting troupes work toward discovery in the play that each is planning to put on - It seems to be a great metaphor for this very film - but their rehearsal scenes go on (and on), and there are so many of them. 10, 20, even 30 minute (!!) scenes of actors writhing around on dirty theater floors? I love the slower pace of foreign films, but it was just too much.
The acting? Jean-Pierre Leaud, who I usually find fascinating, here just annoys the crap out of me. The rest of a very large cast, many of whom were big in French cinema, may or may not be doing good work. With long, rambling scenes inside of the film's overall loose structure, I actually couldn't tell. Rivette usually has one camera going, and he just lets it roll. Even his veteran actors at times seem lost.
If being loose and letting things "just play out" was what Rivette was going for, I think that he could have made his point in less than 13 hours. Considering how much love Out 1 continues to get, perhaps it's just me who is missing out. Yet I can't help think that he not only let his actors down, but that he let his viewers down, too.
I'll leave it to other reviewers to get into The Thirteen, Balzac, Lewis Carroll, conspiracies, paranoia, etc. It IS all very fascinating to read about.
Having read (and heard) so much over the years, about both the film and its legend, it felt as though I had already seen the movie. I could recall its characters, style, and elements with clarity. Unfortunately, having now seen it, that movie has been erased from my memory. I should have stuck with the legend. Sadly, the "Out 1" of my mind no longer exists.
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