Friday, July 20, 2007

La Captive (The Captive)


As someone said taking Marcel Proust to the screen is quite a challenge, but this movie that was inspired in La Prisonnière, the fifth volume of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, does credit to the novel and surpass the imagination with outstanding performances and a cinematography with the most incredible use of the absence of light.

The story is basic as is about the obsession of having what you cannot have and will never have and I am not talking only about Simon, but also about Ariane, as the two characters will never have what they want to have. Obviously Simon is the obsessive that lives in his own prison, but Ariane has a greater prison while she lives in total freedom.

Dialogue is fantastic with the most evasive language I have seen in the screen, as most of the dialogue the two main characters exchange is Simon placing a question and Ariane answering with another question. Brilliant.

But what I found absolutely extraordinary is the manipulation of absence of light in the movie with the magnificent clear-dark (chiaroscuro) of the beginning, that turns into darker-dark as the tale starts to unveil the obsession and when there was a glimpse of separation there is a striking light that even hurts the eyes, as much as the characters are hurting. Magnificent.

Then there is the extraordinary director Belgian Chantal Akerman that moves the movie at a pace that allows seeing and mainly feeling everything that is happening and what you are imagining in your own head. The challenge of taking Proust to the screen is not only taken by directing but also by co writting the script.

Even if most of the movie is centered in the two main characters, a man and a woman, the movie is also about woman that love woman and the infamous question that men have in their heads that seeks the answer to what woman do together? An answer that has very little to do with any sexual innuendo.

The movie had a nomination for Best Actress for Sylvie Testud (Ariane) in the European Film Awards and was part of the selection in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at 2000 Cannes.

This movie is so extraordinary that absolutely is not for all audiences and probably not even for art or art house cinema lovers; this is what I call a very French movie with a very slow pace that if you do not really enjoy French cinema you could have a hard time watching it.

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