14 September 2005 | Aquilant
Let's breathe the forgotten atmosphere of the Nouvelle Vague!
Philippe Garrel makes us breathe the forgotten atmosphere of the Nouvelle Vague, almost lost among the vestiges of its ancient splendor but ready to rise again from its ashes if recalled from the past. They who are a little acquainted with the director's subjects, on the other hand, may know very well how he's obsessed by a lingering sense of loss as far as fickleness of reality is concerned. "Les amants réguliers", therefore, show us the parallel stories of an "amour fou" and of a tempted revolution gone to ruin under the direction of young French students.
The first part of the story is about the dramatic events of May '68 in France evoked in a series of astonishing plan-sequences, a sort of cinema verité style, that place the student insurrection in anything but an enviable light against a pitch-black background.
There's much that can be said about the peculiarities of black-and-white photography used to describe the battle between students and police, where the high contrasts confer an unrealistic atmosphere to the sequences and darkness closes in upon the excited bodies wrapping them in mystery. The images, completely deprived of words, show the real consistence of the myth, made of crude violence, more and more emphasized by the exasperated reality of the movie shootings. The individual doesn't count anything at all here: he tends to disappear in the mass. What really matters in these fight scenes are the significance of the mass-suggestion, the blind fury of the juvenile assault, sinister eulogies of the power of the mob, even if conceived like separate entities apart from any kind of emotion, with the cold and distant look of an entomologist intent to catalog his insect collection.
The second part of the story is described in a quieter and most intimate way. Stands out on the horizon the distressing portrait of a self-centered generation in search of its lost time, completely disenchanted about the individual values of men, inclined to rotate on its own axis between opium fumes and making a funeral oration in the praise of its recent defeat.
"Les amants réguliers" seems to evoke from time to time the shadow of the great Robert Bresson, revised and corrected by Garrel's particular sensibility without drifting away from the main argument, trying to expand overall perspectives on the subject of human disillusions that though painful may bring us to the truth. In my opinion, trying to penetrate deeply into the substrate of the story, if a man lets himself go and play things by ear, he probably will find that he can bring out the dark side of his self with dire and irretrievable consequences.