2 August 2008 | Chris_Docker
An unusual and worthy milestone in Moreau's career
Like L'Adolescente, Lumiere is an attempt by the gifted French actress Jeanne Moreau to take her place behind the camera. It suffers at first from a similar feminine (almost claustrophobic) syrupiness, but has much to recommend it, from beautiful (and frequently symbolic) mise-en-scene to realistic girly-chat and excellent touches of humour. "Why do brides wear white?" they joke. "To blend in with the kitchen."
The overload of pink (visually an metaphorically) changes abruptly as we return from the countryside to Paris. Moreau's character is an actress, which gives us the excellent opportunity to see the difference between the 'woman's woman' and the projected reality of pouting and flirtatiously confrontational behaviour. We realise that the latter is a deliberately invented trademark. The call of, "Lights, action!" (expressed by French film directors as the word, 'Lumiere!") becomes almost a metaphor for the change of attitude women must take. In the countryside relaxing with each other, they can be 'natural.' But in the city, in the 'real' world of business and business with men especially it is all about attitude.
Sarah (Moreau) is in the process of splitting up with one man and entering into an affair with another. She is a strong, intelligent character, and interprets the man-woman flirtation as a strictly hunter and hunted business (whichever way round). It is almost an essay on the push-pull of passion. "No-one is safe," she says to her close friend, "married or not."
My main criticism might be that the continuous rapid-fire dialogue as they battle out their emotions with themselves and each other can get a bit wearing. But at least it is real and intelligent, and in stark contrast to many modern films with similar themes.
In spite of its flaws and annoyances, Lumiere is a sophisticated film that deserves repeated viewing.