“The parent system’s no good. Pa grumbles while Ma’s sweet and silent…”
Fair haired girl, Pauline, 17, she sings – her ex-neighbor Suzanne, 22, doesn’t. In the early 60’s, strong-willed P is having trouble with her parents, so she visits S, who is having trouble with her boyfriend Jerome, married to another woman. S also has two kids and is unintentionally pregnant. There’s illegal abortion drama, Jerome kills himself, and a title card says “ten years later”…
For those who didn’t get Le Bonheur and thought it was asserting male dominance and endorsing cheating on your wife, here’s Varda’s explicitly feminist movie – exploring the joys and pitfalls and terrible music of 1970’s feminism. Unfortunately, explicit feminism (or explicit anything) doesn’t work as well for me as Varda’s more ambiguous movies have… movie is kinda obvious and messagey at times, but she still takes a multifaceted story approach to her message.
Anyway, ten years after the suicide, the women meet at a women’s rights demonstration. P is calling herself Apple now, sings a cheesy “my body is mine” song, playing the worst kind of acoustic guitar and tambourine folk. Actually I kinda liked the piano song she sings on an Amsterdam canal boat with her fellow abortion patients later on. S runs a women’s clinic, while P tours her music and theater group, and the two keep in touch sporadically over the years through the mail. Suzanne eventually marries pediatrician Pierre and Pauline goes to Iran with her man Darius (an economist?), and now the two have to cope with being wives and mothers while trying to keep their values uncorrupted. P finds it’s tough to be feminist in Iran so she ditches her guy and returns home. Ends with a lingering shot on Suzanne’s grown daughter, looking troubled at the thought of taking over the plot.
P. Kael said “Varda brings a Disney touch to women’s liberation.” Otherwise there isn’t crap about it on the internet, besides saying it’s from France, Belgium and Venezuela, which doesn’t even seem to be true.
an Apple performance:
Every movie released in 1977 looks dirty and cheap. Did the entire international film world’s budget go into the first Star Wars? Dialogue is in French, but credits and voiceovers are in English, hmmm. Maybe all this is because of my shady videotape copy.
Pauline (Valérie Mairesse) was in Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice and Lucas Belvaux’s Trilogy and Suzanne (Thérèse Liotard, above) was in a Bertrand Tavernier sci-fi flick with Harvey Keitel and Harry Dean Stanton – must see that. The composer shows up as an actor, with four-year-old Mathieu Demy in tow. Assistant camera (in the Iranian scenes?) is appropriately by Nurit Aviv, France’s first licensed female cinematographer.