Saturday, August 08, 2009

Le Jupon Rouge (Manuela’s Loves)

Not exactly what I was hoping for as this movie is not easy to watch because the acting style, the rather odd storytelling that doesn’t easily allow to understand what’s going on and a directing style that suggests the work of a non-experienced director.

So, it was not a surprise when I started reading about the movie and found a few story summaries, synopsis and analysis each telling something different about the story. What they and I agree is that there are three women in this story, Bacha the oldest, Manuela fortyish and Claude the youngest.

Here are some story versions. There are some that believe that the two older women were (are?) lovers and the younger came to disrupt their relationship. Others think that the older woman was repulsed by Manuela falling in love with Claude and fail to explain Basha’s reaction. Me, I think that Basha and Manuela were friends with a not healthy dependency relationship that when Manuela had boyfriends was no problem, but when Manuela falls for another woman and gets absorbed by the normal first months bliss, Basha explodes into a not rational jealousy reaction that mixes friendship, love, strong unhealthy dependency, protected territory invasion and heavy awful manipulation.

One thing is true for me, when women get involved in any kind of unhealthy relationship everyone is a loser… except the one that manipulates the others.

So, I imagine that each viewer can get their own interpretation of what’s happening in this odd triangle.

From my readings there is a short analysis about the film that gives some light to (or confuses more) this complex story. It mentions the role that men plays in each women life and how much Bacha and Manuela depend on their mutual friendship. If you feel like reading it, check the book Cinema and the Second Sex by Carrie Tarr and Brigitte Rollet, pages 92 and 93 that is here.

I didn’t enjoyed much the film because I felt the characters were not well developed, the acting was really poor and there was no chemistry between Manuela and Claude even when the actresses were forced to do languid eye contacts to supposedly denote desire.

This is a film that some consider important in the history of women’s cinema in France because it is so rare for a lesbian relationship to be visualized so centrally and, at first at least, so sympathetically. Perhaps that was true for 1987 when the film was produced but thirty years after definitively it is not an issue anymore in French or any other country cinema, thus the story lack of characters development and a more developed plot becomes even more evident.

Unfortunately I cannot recommend this movie, but I do suggest you watch it just to realize how French (and any other country) cinema has evolved with stories of lesbian interest.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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