Volpane In Love

Decade Archive of my personal blog from 1999 to 2009.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

a series of French cinemas...

Two weeks ago I watched (with Carolyn, Purple and Bruce) a movie that had been sitting on my shelf for several months, "He Loves Me/ He Loves Me Not". Audrey Tautou of �Amelie� fame plays a young woman with a promising art career who finds herself in love with a distant married heart surgeon. As the story progresses her character begins to unravel, but before you know everything the narrative rewinds and begins again revealing new scenes from the surgeon�s point-of-view. What you suspect is that the young woman is not really that stable and the second telling of the narrative points out how fragile the notion of love and relationships are tied to our expectations. I've given this very thing a lot of thought within my own experience. This movie doesn�t do much more than confirm my notions, but has perhaps opened my mind to why I need to change directions.

I am reminded how our expectations warp our perceptions of events. This was a crutial point in a movie such as "Rashoman". I've seen such narrative devices used effectively in recent movies like "Run Lola Run" and "Memento". If we don't have enough information to make a rational judgment we loose touch with the elements in our life that support our fantasy and we become confused with reality. At some point we have to rely on someone else as a sounding board or reference point to re-confirm our grasp on reality. While we can easily fall prey to others flawed perceptions, unless we are willing to confront the fantasy and see it for what it really is, an illusion, we are likely to make the same mistakes and perpetuate the same flawed thinking.

It was healing for me to follow up the confusing aspects of "He Loves Me/ He Loves Me Not" with "Venus Beauty Institute" another film in which Audrey Tautou plays a gamine young woman, only this time not so intentionally naive. VBI explores the frustrating aspects of being single and dating, yet desiring company that you often settle for whoever is nearby. In the progress of the movie a man who you don't really know anything about declares his love for an aging beautician after witnessing her being soundly dumped by an weekend lover. His pursuit pays off because he begins dating the main character despite her insistance on her independence and singularity. By the end of the movie you realize there is always more to the story than you ever get from your short cinematic encounter with these characters. There is always more to reveal and the more you peel away the layers to expose the individual, the more the individual remains an enigma.

�Amelie� works on the same notion but accomplishes its goals from a more authoritarian, perhaps pedantic position. Director Jeunet engages the audience with a laundry list of characters who seek their own happiness through undeniably simple pleasures. Once we�ve accepted his characters viewpoints, he then twists our own notions of decent and acceptable behavior until we no longer question the actions of his heroine who continually meddles without remorse, revealing a gentle nature with a capricious streak of personal justice, which leads her to attempt to effect positively the lives of the people around her. When her confidence in her own goodness comes into question, she runs from the possibility of finding happiness for herself until the one person she seems to help the most points her back to discovering her happiness.

Each one of the characters Audrey Tautou plays in these movies gives up a crucial part of her own integrity in the hopes of developing something better. Each one makes a leap of faith, but each one clings to the very thing that keeps them from succeeding. When they do succeed, even in the slightest of ways, I have to applaud their desire to experience life.


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