19 March 2001 | djenning
charming, but also challenging
This film is light, but not empty. Following the interconnected lives of several Parisian bourgeois, the film uses snippets of popular music to demonstrate the emotional state of the characters in the style of a conventional musical. However, the music does both more than this and less. The characters do not sing their parts so much as lip-sync (badly) to tunes that one hears on the radio or in a movie. The songs are related to the characters' "inner lives" as a Nike swoosh or a Dior label would be - and that's the point. Each character has a musical style of sorts and maybe even a theme song, but the song "belongs" to the character like motion "belongs" to a jelly-fish. The characters, like the jelly-fish that are a motif of the finale scene, are less than unique, and much less than in control. However, they are at the same time quite human and sympathetic.
Resnais, whom I count as being one of cinema's great geniuses, has a similar approach in On connaît la chanson as he does in Mon oncle d'Amérique, with pop songs in lieu of mice and jelly-fish in lieu of Henri Laborit. (See the info on the latter movie if this doesn't make sense...) What both films do is make one think about important questions of the complex relationship between brains, minds, and souls, and they do so without clobbering the viewer over the head with preachiness and over-simplifications. Contrast this with the sermonizing of the abominable Lars von Trier (of Dancer in the Dark fame) as well as with the mindless drek that that is generally shown in U.S. theaters.