2016/17: Watched the new blu-ray and updated the 2008 writeup below.

The brother of Morag (Geraldine Chaplin, then of Cría cuervos and The Three Musketeers, later of Love on the Ground and Talk To Her) is killed. She seeks revenge on pirate queen Giulia (Bernadette Lafont, Sarah in Out 1, also Genealogies of a Crime), infiltrates the castle with help of traitorous Erika (Kika Markham of Truffaut’s Two English Girls and Dennis Potter’s Blade on the Feather). Gradually all of Giulia’s associates are killed off, then G & M stab each other to death, fall to the ground dying and laughing.

Early ambush attempt:

Feels more mysterious and less straightforward than Duelle even though there’s less talk of magic in this one. Morag is apparently the moon goddess and Giulia the sun goddess, though they don’t reveal their powers until the last half hour. I didn’t do the best job keeping track of the minor characters, but I’m almost positive that some of them – including Morag’s brother – keep dying then reappearing in later scenes. In fact, I guess one of the two male pirates, “Jacob” (Humbert Balsan of Lancelot of the Lake, later an important film producer) is also her brother “Shane,” which complicates the plot in ways I no longer understand.

The men of the castle, Jacob and Ludovico:

There are gas lamps and castles and swordfights and magic, all very period, but then there is lots of cool, modern (clearly 70’s) clothing and guns and motorboats. And nobody is cooler than Bernadette Lafont in her bellbottomed pink leather suit (which creaks loudly when she moves). Watching her and Chaplin’s movements through the scenes, and to a lesser degree the other male pirate Larrio Ekson, are the best part of the movie and sometimes appear to be its entire point.

As beautiful and simple as the sun: Giulia with pink jeans on:

Morag and Erika have meetings in which they sit or walk robotically and recite lines in English from the play The Revenger’s Tragedy, so maybe reading that would help somewhat. Then again, D. Ehrenstein says “Analysis begins to run into a series of dead ends. The texts utilized as central sources of quotation… Tourneur’s The Revenger’s Tragedy in Noroît — are merely pre-texts, having nothing to say about the films that enclose them, posed in the narrative as subjects for further research.”

As in Duelle, whenever there’s music in a scene the musicians are part of that scene, even when they realistically would’ve left the room. Maybe right before the shot begins Giulia has threatened their lives and told them to play, no matter what. There are long stretches with no spoken dialogue. Lighting mostly looks natural indoors. This and Duelle were Rivette’s first films shot by William Lubtchansky, who would shoot most of the rest of the films (not Hurlevent). William is husband to Nicole L., who edited everything for forty years from L’Amour Fou to Around a Small Mountain.

Morag killing Regina:

Erika playing Morag in the reenactment of previous scene:

Morag playing Regina getting killed by skullfaced Erika:

I wish I knew how this movie’s title was pronounced, because every time I think of it, Fred Schneider sings “here comes a narwhal!” in my head. It’s gonna be “narr-WHAA” until some Frenchman tells me otherwise. One site translates the word as “Nor’wester.”

Rivette:

When I was filming Noroît, I was persuaded that we were making a huge commercial success, that it was an adventure film that would have great appeal … When the film didn’t come out, when it was considered un-showable … I was surprised. I don’t consider myself … unfortunately, I’m not very lucid when it comes to the potential success of my projects.

J. Reichert:

As with all good revenge dramas (this one inspired by bloody Jacobean plays), the mass of killings begin to far outweigh the initial wrong done and the angel of vengeance experiences moments of doubts and sympathy for her marks—there’s betrayal as well. Rivette shorthands these narratively rich moments, suggesting them in a glance, a line, a change of Chaplin’s face, so that he can maintain focus on the ballet-like movement of his players through space, where stowing recently acquired treasure takes on the aspect of slow-motion acrobatics. The drama climaxes in a clifftop masquerade ball/murder spree/dance performance shot across what looks like infrared, B&W, and color, that combines violence and poetry into a mix that’s literally unlike anything I’ve seen.

Doomed dance party:

Giulia (left) and Morag having stabbed each other to death:

D. Ehrenstein:

The films are devoted to methods that while seeming to reach representational specificity, do so in a manner designed to cancel all possible affectivity. The settings and costumes of Duelle suggest their display in a reserved “theatrical” style, but the camera, while tracking smoothly, does so far too energetically, and when coupled with the film’s nervous angular montage rhythms, disrupts the space it has spent so much time constructing. Likewise each setting (casino, hotel, aquarium, ballet school, race track, park, subway, dance hall, and greenhouse in Duelle, castle by the sea in Noroît) suggests the possibility of an atmosphere the mise en scene never seems directly to create (as in Resnais, Franju, Fellini, etc.).

Similarly acting styles clash with one another. Flip off-hand cool (Bulle Ogier, Bernadette Lafont) wars with highly stylized affectation (Hermine Karaheuz, Geraldine Chaplin) rather than the work holding to the latter mentioned category for an overall tone as would be logically demanded by a project of this sort … The film’s essence is thus not reducible to a specific moment, but must be seen in the working through of its positive/negative gestures — unfixed points neither within nor without the films.

Poster shot: Morag and Shane… or is it Jacob?

Michael Graham:

Like any Rivette film, [Noroît] took shape gradually, drawing on a large number of deliberately chosen ideas and as many fortuitous circumstances. As important as Rivette’s interest in Tourneur’s The Revenger’s Tragedy (drawn to his attention by Eduardo De Gregorio), and the curious traditions surrounding the period of Carnival, was the availability of Geraldine Chaplin and Bernadette Lafont together with that of a group of dancers from Carolyn Carlson’s company. It must be kept in mind that Rivette often conceives a film around particular people; Celine et Julie began as ‘a film for Juliet Berto’. Any casting decision is consequently of primary importance. Further, the selection of Brittany as a location arose as much from certain union allowances permitting a six day week outside Paris, as from a vague desire to spend some time in the country. Once the different ideas and practical considerations begin to sort themselves out and interact, the narrative itself starts to acquire definition. Even after shooting has begun, however, Rivette is enormously influenced by what he may discover the actors capable of achieving.

Stories don’t just lead into each other like in The Saragossa Manuscript – they melt and morph into each other, thanks to codirector Evan Johnson’s digital manipulations, which don’t replace Maddin’s usual bag of tricks, but join the choppy editing and texture fetish and everything else. Some of his early movies had somnambulist rhythms, but this one is ecstatic from start to finish.

Had to watch this a couple times before I could report in.

Second time through, I noted the order of stories:

How to Take a Bath, with Louis Negin

Submarine: Blasting Jelly and Flapjacks

Starring Negin again with Ukranian Greg Hlady, panicky Alex Bisping, Andre the Giant-reminiscent Kent McQuaid, and mysteriously-appearing woodsman Cesare (Roy Dupuis of Mesrine and Screamers).

M. Sicinski:

Like the men in the submarine, The Forbidden Room has an overall mood of anxiety and despair, in the sense that we are asked to grapple with its heady delirium of character trajectories and stunted arcs, all the while searching in vain for some absent center, the organizing “captain” who is supposed to pull it all together. In its endless ruptures and disconnections, The Forbidden Room brings us up short, placing us back in that capsule where the image is a form of confinement, a shortness of breath.

Cowardly Saplingjacks

Cesare sets out to rescue the kidnapped Margo (Clara Furey)

Cave of the Red Wolves

with lead wolf Noel Burton, bladder slapping and boggling puzzlements!

Amnesiac Singing Flowergirl

Margo again, with mysterious necklace woman Marie Brassard (sinister Jackie from Vic + Flo Saw a Bear) and patient Pancho (Victor Andres Trelles Turgeon)

The Final Derriere

with Sparks, Udo Kier (returning from Keyhole) as a man plagued by bottoms, Master Passion Geraldine Chaplin, and the Lust Specialist (Le Havre star Andre Wilms)

Red Wolves / Woodsmen / Submarine / Bath / Submarine

Quick return.

Squid Theft / Volcano Sacrifice

With Margo, squid thief Romano Orzari and Lost Generation attorney Céline Bonnier (The Far Side of the Moon)

D. Ehrlich:

The Forbidden Room may (or may not) be inventing narratives from thin air, but whatever history these abandoned projects might have had is completely supplanted by the present Maddin (and co-director Evan Johnson) invents for them. These stories belong to him now. The Forbidden Room may forego the hypnotically autobiographical thrust of recent efforts like My Winnipeg and Brand Upon the Brain!, but it feels no less personal for it.

Mill Seeks Gardener

With shed-sleeper Slimane Dazi and unpredictable runaway Jacques Nolot

Injured Motorcyclist at Bone Hospital

Caroline Dhavernas and Paul Ahmarani

Doctor kidnapped by skeleton insurance defrauders

Lewis Furey (Margo’s father IRL) as The Skull-Faced Man, and Eric Robidoux as the bone doctor’s long-lost brother who is also a bone doctor.

Psychiatrist and madman aboard train

Gregory Hlady again, Romano Orzari again, and Karine Vanasse (Polytechnique) as Florence LaBadie

Florence’s Inner Child

Sienna Mazzone as young Florence with crazy mother Kathia Rock

Parental Neglect / Madness / Murder / Amnesia

Bone Hospital / Insurance Defrauders
Mill / Criminal / Doctor
Volcanic Island / Squid Theft / Submarine / Bath

“I haven’t finished telling you: the forest… the snow… the convict… the birthday”

Woodsman Gathers New Allies

Kyle Gatehouse as Man With Upturned Face, Neil Napier as Man With Stones On His Feet and Victor Turgeon again as Listening Man – these are the same actors who played the Saplingjacks earlier, and again they don’t enter the cave with Cesare.

Margo and Aswang The Vampire

M. D’Angelo:

The Forbidden Room was shot mostly at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, piecemeal, in front of a live audience, following which Maddin and Johnson artfully distressed the digital footage and added priceless intertitles. The project took advantage of whichever actors were available to it on a given day.

Elevator Man Unprepared For Wife’s Birthday Kills His Butler

All-star segment with Mathieu Amalric, Udo Kier and Amira Casar (Anatomy of Hell, Piano Tuner of Earthquakes).

D. Ehrlich:

[Amalric] gleefully indulges in Maddin’s pure and peerlessly florid sense of melodrama, which here becomes a mechanism for foolhardy and paranoid men to ruin their lives as they attempt to rescue, love, or murder the beautiful women who didn’t ask for their help.

Dead Butler Oedipal Mustache Flashback

Maybe my favorite segment, with Maria de Medeiros (Saddest Music in the World) as the Blind Mother and more mentions of flapjacks.

Ukranian Radio War Drama

With Stranger by the Lake star Christophe Paou as the prisoner

Mustache / Return of the Dead Father

Diplomat Memoirs of Cursed Janus-Head

M. Peranson:

Together, Maddin and Johnson have crafted a formal masterwork jolted by digital after effects, recreating the look of decaying nitrate stock, shape-shifting the image with multiple superimpositions and variegated colour fields (the general look resembling decayed two-strip Technicolor), and compositing swirling transitions that connect (or bury) one film within the other (and the other, and the other). To try and describe “what happens” in The Forbidden Room is both forbidding and beside the point, for the 130-minute film stands more as an interminable, (in)completed object on its own, like the work of one of its main influences, the French poet, novelist and playwright Raymond Roussel (from whom Maddin and Johnson borrow their technique of parenthetical asides); one comes to understand this object, and what it’s trying to accomplish, only while watching it.

Peranson’s writeup is from the Toronto Film Festival, after which nine minutes got removed from the movie. Since nobody at the festivals was able to exhaustively account for all the stories within stories, it’s impossible to track down what got lost. It seems, though, that any lost footage (and more) can be seen in the Seances.

Andreas Apergis and his fiancee Sophia Desmarais (Curling)

Night Auction Doppelganger

featuring LUG-LUG, hideous impulse incarnate!

Stealing Mother’s Laudanum

Charlotte Rampling as Amalric’s Mother, Ariane Labed (Attenberg, Alps) as his girlfriend.

Maddin (in an essential Cinema Scope interview) on the film’s 2+ hour length:

We could have easily had a 75-minute version … but viewers that like it, we wanted to feel like we’d broken their brains, really left a physical impression on them, left them exhausted. Hopefully exhilarated and exhausted, in a good way. We wanted “too much” to still be insufficient … it would be nice if it came out in one endless ribbon, that, like John Ashbery’s poetry, you just snip off for a beginning and an end, and just ask the audience how much they want.

Dead Father / Elevator Birthday Murder Plot / Margo and Aswang / Woodsmen
Red Wolves are Dead, Rescue is Cancelled
Submarine / The Forbidden Room / Book of Climaxes

Bath.

I expected to like this a lot more, considering the last 1970’s Richard Lester star-studded period adaptation I watched. Adapted by the guy who wrote Octopussy and a few later Lester films, which starred some of the Musketeers, so I guess there were no hard feelings all around.

Logan’s Run star Michael York is our excitable young D’Artangnan, who teams with musketeers Oliver Reed (between The Devils and Tommy), Frank Finlay (his follow-up to Shaft In Africa) and Richard Chamberlain (Julie Christie’s husband in Petulia). The evil Cardinal Heston plans to undermine the monarchy by exposing Queen Geraldine Chaplin’s affair with Duke Simon Ward. Heston and his partner Faye Dunaway try to preserve evidence of the affair while the Musketeers ride to their presumed deaths trying to hide it. Doesn’t seem like the most noble use of their talents in service of the king, but whatever, it’s pretty fun. Christopher Lee and Spike Milligan were in there somewhere, too.

A comedy with grating performances and no jokes. One of the central points of the movie is this crude American cartoonist who is only appreciated by Parisian intellectuals, possibly in reference to Resnais influence Jerry Lewis. But Resnais (and writer Jules Feiffer, who critically also adapted Robert Altman’s failed live-action cartoon Popeye) make an unfunny movie about an unlikeable artist – perhaps a movie only French intellectuals could love.

Joey, Lena, Gerard:

Opens (after the multilingual credits) with a lovely process shot of a plane in the clouds, then follows with young Elsie speaking to herself, alternating between unconvincing French and unconvincing English, and seeing visions of poorly-animated cartoon cats. With a name like Laura Benson, shouldn’t her English be fine? Turns out she’s just not a good actress.

Two years later Joey, a blustery Walter-Matthauish guy with large teeth (played by Adolph Green, writer of the song “New York, New York”) who also sees cartoon cats arrives in Paris with his suffering girlfriend/assistant Lena. He ignores her, hates Paris, wants to see his daughter Elsie, but ends up meeting Elsie’s idol, famous Flaubert scholar Gerard Depardieu, going to his house (followed, belatedly, by Elsie) and hooking up with Gerard’s mom Isabelle (Micheline Presle of Rivette’s The Nun, American Guerrilla in the Philippines), while Lena wanders dejected in the background. A cartoon costume party ensues (with prominent Popeye and Olive Oyl characters), revealing that Alain Resnais has no particular talent for big madcap comic action sequences. It should be over, but we’re inexplicably treated to five more minutes of extremely grating loud complaints from Joey, a couple of undeserved reconciliation scenes, and a possible new love interest for Elsie as she returns to the U.S. leaving Joey to torment people in France.

I was hopeful. I’ve heard this was Resnais’s worst film, but figured a huge fan such as myself should still find plenty to appreciate. Sure it started terribly, but it got increasingly bearable, peaking with a nice looking father/daughter scene in a secret room at Gerard’s house (above). But then it quickly ramped back up from there, and I was left weary and annoyed by the end.

Geraldine Chaplin, sailing safely above it all:

Forbak is going to build a pleasure palace but WWI interferes and his girl marries another guy. When he opens his castle, diminished from its original plan, he invites all his friends to stay locked inside and drink a potion of forgetfulness, awakening to blissful ignorance and holding a chastely sensual orgy. For some reason Forbak’s sinister, wheelchair-bound father is pleased by all this. Forbak’s lost love Livia agrees to stay out of curiosity but doesn’t drink the potion, spying on the goings-on afterward, while her naive husband Raoul drinks and dies for reasons unknown halfway through the experiment.

Forbak casts a spell:
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Sounds like another oddball movie along the lines of Je t’aime, je t’aime – but wait, there’s more! Decades later, present-day, the castle is being used as a progressive (read: new-agey) school under crabby headmistress Holberg, and the site of an educators’ conference. Local guy Robert throws toys around and acts like Natalie Portman when she’s doing something nobody has ever done before in Garden State, visitor Elizabeth acts the uptight moralist who believes in true love, Nora the confident modern woman and Walter the elder celebrity. The conference devolves into squabbling and the importance and methods of education becomes secondary to guessing who will hook up with whom (Nora bets Elizabeth falls for Robert, but Liz rides off with Walter in the end).

Robert and his son… and who’s that guy on the left? Big head, stiff hair… looks familiar.
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Scenes alternate, with a wildcard movie thrown into the middle… Melies-tribute tableaux fantasy shots involving kings and monsters and children and swords, dwarfs and damsels in distress.

The king orders more people beheaded… note stingray at bottom. The same plaster stingrays are staggered up the walls in the present-day scenes within the castle.
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Weird movie, puzzling but fully enjoyable. Possibly the turning-point movie where Resnais went from anguished memory-obsessed time-traveling Muriel mode to stagey comedic ensemble Not On The Lips mode. The musical thing started here for sure – there are singsongy intros and everyone seems about to burst into song, but they do not… and then finally Elizabeth relieves the musical tension with a couple full songs. For me it recalled Rivette’s Love on the Ground more than any Resnais movie. Maybe it was the wacky architecture, the castle in which grown-ups perform a childish drama.

“The age of happiness is beginning,” they tell us, “Love! Happiness!” chanted forever. English title was “Life is a Bed of Roses” but the subtitles tell us “Life is a Fairy Tale” and the strict translation seems to be “Life is a Novel.” Closing lines: kids saying “as my father said, life isn’t a fairy tale.” Resnais’ only time with cinematographer Bruno Nuytten (who worked with Marguerite Duras and Claude Berri) and his second of three with writer Jean Gruault.

Bonheur:
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Lots of familiar faces in this one! In the WWI-era scenes, idealist Ruggero Raimondi (so he’s not familiar, an opera singer) vies with Andre Dussollier (another link with Love on the Ground, later in Coeurs) for the hand of Fanny Ardant (star of two then-current Truffaut films).

Fanny Ardant and Andre Dussollier:
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In present-day, Vittorio Gassman (then of a couple by Robert Altman, before that a hundred Italian films) is the bearded celeb Walter, Geraldine Chaplin (another Rivette/Altman connection), funny with her falsely “bad” French is Nora, Sabine Azéma (married redhead in Not On The Lips, caretaker/realtor in Coeurs) is timid Elizabeth, Pierre Arditi is the charming/ridiculous Robert and Robert Manuel (in Rififi back in the day) is the group organizer.

Walter… and there’s that guy again on the left:
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Resnais:

The theme of the film is “Can we create happiness for ourselves without hurting others?” It isn’t easy. The second theme, even though it’s bad to have two in a story, is “Are there really any grown-ups?”

Dying mother in demonland performs one last song:
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Stylus:

vacillates between three superficially unrelated vignettes, one set in medieval times, one in 1914, and one in the present day. The first has operatic tableaux in the place of a narrative; the second is a Poe-esque cautionary tale on the spiritual rebirth of high society, and the third an airy romantic farce. This is no Three Times: the three are linked by the locale of a castle, but otherwise thematic parallels are unclear—“love and happiness,” the casts in all three chant, but isn’t this a rather dime-store way of threading segments together?

Eager to discover why Resnais had employed such seemingly arbitrary affectations, I rushed home and googled the film, and was giddy upon the realization that the three parts were tributes to three of Resnais’ favorite French filmmakers: Georges Méliès, Marcel L’Herbier, and Eric Rohmer.

Fanny decides not to drink the kool-aid:
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D. Ehrenstein:
“Rather than a novelist as was his practice in the past, Resnais worked with veteran scriptwriter Jean Grualt, whose credits include Jules and Jim, Les Carabiniers, The Story of Adele H, The Rise of Louis XIV and Paris Belongs to Us.”

Scale model vs. World War One:
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Resnais at a film fest press conference:
“I never had the idea that the audience should go out of the theater scratching its head and asking questions about the meaning of the film … The important thing for us is that we wanted to make a comedy.” Also says the film expresses “‘variations on the theme of dominance.”

Robert’s springheaded son and his cronies:
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NY Times

Although ”Life Is a Bed of Roses” has a deliberately distancing, non-realistic style, and although its uniquely skewed logic effectively prevents the audience from trying to regard it rationally, the film winds up more purely confounding than can have been intended. Arch little asides, like the abundant choral flourishes, cannot help but feel pointless without a clear sense of what they are departures from.

About the title, Mr. Resnais explained that ”Life Is a Novel” is its French equivalent. French parents, he said, often tell their children that ”life is not a novel,” in the same way that American parents declare ”life is not a bed of roses.”

Sabine Azéma as Elizabeth:
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Cineaste calls it a “fascinating misfire” and says “it would take as long to summarize the plot(s) as it takes to watch the movie.”

DVD Talk (unless they’re quoting Kino) guesses at intentions:
“Through parody and “civilized” snobbism the French director also critiques the foundations of modern intellectualism, those who thrive on it.”

Pleasure blanket:
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Films de France:
“Both Forbek and the seminar’s organisers are striving for similar things, the creation of a better world. Both are doomed to failure.”

Not gonna say too much except that I was hella impressed by this movie. It’s the sort of high-society period piece I usually stay away from, but with balls-out film technique and beautiful cinematography.

Swell, stringy music by Elmer Bernstein (Sweet Smell of Success, every 80’s comedy, Far From Heaven). Beautiful opening titles by Saul Bass. Shot by Michael Ballhaus (The Departed, Quiz Show, tons of Fassbinder) and edited by Powell’s widow. Production designer worked with Fellini and Pasolini, costumer (who won the film’s only oscar) worked with Ruiz, Gilliam, Leone and Fellini, and the set decorator worked on RoboCop 3 and The Lathe of Heaven.

Glad to see macaws and peacocks. Noticed a Samuel Morse painting that I’ve seen at the High. Spent a whole scene staring at the actors’ clothes and the surrounding paintings, thinking about the color combinations. Distracting but very brief cameo by Scorsese as a wedding photographer. Playful transitions, irises, fades to color, rear projection and some super matte work.

The story, okay I might not have given it my full attention because of the colors and the irises, but fully modern man Daniel Day-Lewis is paired with innocent traditional girl Winona Ryder, but then he falls for fiery scandalous Michelle Pfeiffer instead. Eventually DDL is so widely suspected of having an affair with Pfeiffer that he may as well have – but never did. Lots of unspoken thoughts going on, DDL/Ryder’s marriage in the 20-years-later epilogue seems like the Crane Wife, like society would fly apart if they ever spoke what’s on their minds. All the actors very good – I thought Pfeiffer stood out, but the academy preferred Ryder. Great to see Geraldine Chaplin, looking good a decade after Love on the Ground, though she had very little to say or do. Richard Grant played as much of a villain as the film had, a sideways-smiling scandal-slinger, and Jonathan Pryce showed up towards the end as a Frenchman (dunno why, with all the opulence on display, Scorsese couldn’t afford an actual Frenchman).

Appropriate to watch this right after the Michael Powell movies, given Scorsese’s love for Powell’s films. I wouldn’t have guessed the fight scenes in Raging Bull were influenced by The Red Shoes ballet before I heard it in the DVD commentary. Also appropriate to watch this soon after Orlando and soon before The Piano, a sort of 1993 oscar-campaign review.

The missing link between Celine & Julie and Marie & Julien (with some Gang of Four thrown in).

Jane Birkin (under a decade before La Belle Noiseuse but looking two decades younger) and Geraldine Chaplin (eight years after Noroît) are working as actresses with Silvano (Facundo Bo) in a play performed in Silvano’s actual apartment. Play was ripped off from famous/rich playwright Clémont Roquemaure (Jean-Pierre Kalfon of L’Amour Fou and some Philippe Garrel movies). One day he’s in the audience, invites the three to perform a new play in his house, based on the sordid love triangle of himself, hanger-on magician Paul (André Dussollier, the realtor from Coeurs), and the now-missing Beatrice.

G. Chaplin and Paul:
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House-fellow Virgil (László Szabó of Godard’s Passion and Made in USA) doesn’t have much to do until the end, when he shares wacky scenes with Birkin. He spends his free time translating Hamlet into Finnish (predicting Hamlet Goes Business points out Glenn Kenny).
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Third-wheel Eléonore – Sandra Montaigu of Hurlevent:
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There’s not actually a ton of love here, but there are lots of triangles… the film is rich with triangles. And magic and mystery – the girls see visions and premonitions in mirrors and through keyholes. And the mansion is visually insane (D. Cairns calls that first screenshot the “streaky bacon” room). And the premise gives us enough of Rivette’s performance/identity motif for at least two movies… I mean, the actor characters are portraying the other characters in the film… it starts to fold in upon itself and collapse like Bjork’s Bachelorette video. That the movie even has a conclusion (public performance of the play culminating in Beatrice’s mysterious reappearance) seems moot. This is three hours gladly spent in Rivette Country… not his best movie, but one of his most Rivettian. Like his Wild At Heart.

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This was the full three-hour version, happily out on DVD. Jonathan Rosenbaum says: “Rivette’s 1983 two-hour Love on the Ground is a minor work, but at a 1989 Rivette retrospective in Rotterdam I saw a superior three-hour version–the first I knew of its existence. Rivette told me on that occasion that it was the only version he believed in; he implied that the release version merely honored his original contract.” JR later echoed that even the three-hour version is a minor work, and others would agree. Senses of Cinema calls it “a mere footnote”, Slant says “precious, lifeless, and ultimately meaningless.” Ouch. But J. Reichert at Reverse Shot, G. Kenny and D. Cairns all liked it, and I’m throwing in with them.

I haven’t found any online mention that the two lead actresses are named Emily and Charlotte – the names of the two famous Brontë sisters. Rivette’s next film would be an adaptation of Emily’s Wuthering Heights.

Barbet Schroeder makes an appearance after spending 20 years producing French New Wave films. He’ll spend the next 15 directing Hollywood thrillers.
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