Pola X (1999)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Romance

Pola X (1999) Poster

A young writer becomes intrigued with a mysterious dark-haired woman who claims to be his long-lost sister, starting an unusual relationship with her and prompting a downward spiral involving his domineering mother and lovely fiancée.


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25 January 2003 | DrMoonlight
| Another misunderstood masterpiece.
When Melville's "Pierre; or The Ambiguities" hit bookstores in 1852, his first publication since "Moby Dick" a year earlier, the public response was similar to that found among the IMDB reviews of "POLA X". Newspapers even published headlines like: "Melville Insane!" which, of course, he wasn't. But, when one compares the writing styles found in "Moby Dick" and "Pierre," one finds in the latter a sharp departure from the simple and often declamatory style found in the former. Clearly, he was mimicking the overly florid style of the now-forgotten Victorian Romances that were easily outselling his immortal "Moby Dick." He was not content, however, to turn out the sort of product that his publishers wanted, and that surely would have sold. His version of a Victorian romance was a twisted, cynical one, perhaps, but brilliant in its synthesis. The alternate title: "The ambiguities" is quite appropriate. As Pierre searches for, and thinks he finds, truth, we become more and more uncertain what and whom to believe. As he searches for happiness, he becomes more and more miserable.

"POLA X" is a fascinating adaptation of this novel, set in modern or nearly modern France. Though, in some ways, it leaves little to the imagination, and shows us graphically the incestuous relations that Melville could only hint at, the ambiguities which make the novel and its message so alluring are perfectly in tact. The questions it raises are ones that few films have thought to ask, yet the answers are left to the viewer.

I recommend a reading of the novel, which is much shorter than "Moby Dick," before seeing this movie. I hope more people discover this tantalizing film.

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