Wednesday, October 17, 2007

La Pirate (The Pirate)


This 1984 movie is a very complex emotional drama by Jacques Doillon and as someone says: “Doillon is no stranger to controversy and with La Pirate, arguably his most provocative work; he assaults our sensibilities with this puzzling and harrowing portrayal of searing naked emotion. It is a daring work, which boldly tests the limits of what is acceptable in film drama. How much does an author have to reveal about his characters for us to believe in their situation, to feel involved in the story we see unfolding before our eyes? Doillon certainly doesn’t go out of his way to make it easy for his audience. The film starts with a jolt and then accelerates relentlessly towards its bleak dramatic ending with little if anything in the way of exposition.

The impression is that you have joined the film somewhere near the end of the story, that the greater part of the action has already taken place. What we are seeing is the denouement of an epic human saga, the endgame to a torrid tale that we scarcely dare to speculate on. For that reason, the film depends greatly on its spectator’s willingness to participate, to fill in the gaps and imagine the past experiences of the five characters in the film. Without this involvement, the film really cannot function – everything feels random, irrational, unrealistic, an odd self-indulgent game in histrionic excess. That Doillon is perhaps placing too great a demand on his audience could explain the hostile reaction the film aroused when it was first released, particularly at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984. Unless the spectator is prepared to work to make sense of the film, it is a wasted effort, and the extraordinarily tortured performances (notably from Jane Birkin and Maruschka Detmers) are cruelly negated.”

I’m sharing with you these comments as I find that accurately describe my reaction to the movie. To me it was hard to participate and fill all the gaps, perhaps because the characters were too dramatic or irrelevant. It was not until the end that I was able to figure out everything and by then it was too late as I missed to fill the gaps during the whole movie. So, I have to see it again and be willing to fill the gaps to grasp the complete story.

The outline of the story goes something like this. One night Alma sees again Carole, with whom she had a one-night stand and decides to leave her husband and go away with her. Eventually the husband, the girl (you never know her name), a detective and the two women end up together in a hotel where intense emotions explode.

Not an easy movie to see, but I’ll definitively see it again in a few days to grab the story and enjoy once more the very dramatic style of the performances by Maruschka Detmers (Carole), Jane Birkin (Alma) and her real life brother Andrew Birkin that plays Alma’s husband.

The movie was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival and in the 1985 Cesar Awards Jane Birkin was nominated for Best Actress, Marushcka Detmeres for Best Supporting Actress and Laure Marsac (the girl) won the Most Promising Actress Award.

Absolutely not for all audiences you have to like complex emotional dramas and French cinema.

Have to thank a dearest reader of this blog for allowing me to see this rare movie. Many, many thanks.

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