24 March 2019 | alexcornas
Promising, interesting but ultimately disappointing
Tavernier is a very important figure in the history of not only French but world cinema. There is no better man suited to direct a documentary about the history of French cinema. Alas, this is a very subjective voyage through French cinema based on Tavernier personal connections and recollections and, most importantly, own taste.
The first half is fantastic, but the movie loses itself after the tale of Gabin, France greatest actor. There is no thread liking one part with another, no message to be told. It is just one recollection after another, which could go on forever, and indeed it went on as TV series of 10 episodes.
The movie or documentary fails because he actually carries very little interest. If you know French cinema prior to see this documentary, you will learn very little. If you don't know much about French cinema then yes, you will learn about Renoir, Becker, Gabin and The Great Illusion (the undisputed greatest movie ever made) but you will miss out on the legends that were Raimu, Fernandel, Bourvil, Clouzot, Dassin, De Funes and the greatest director out of them all Robert Bresson.
How come they've been left out? One might ask, well, for one thing, by time restrictions, although Clouzot and Guitry were touched upon in the TV series. But the main reason is Tavernier's own taste. Tavernier likes film noir and gritty films, hence the omission of all the comics of France Golden Age. He also isn't a particularly spirituel director, hence the omission of Bresson and Bunuel. It's a shame, it is similar to directing a documentary about the France football team and omitting to talk or even mention Zidane, Cantona and Papin.
A nice effort but lacking too much in structure and interest, although the first half is brilliantly told.