13 April 2010
On the one hand: this was a good film to watch for "research," as I try to think about adult storylines through children's eyes. Especially their strange obsession with death and ritual as a way of exploring the meaning behind things by extracting that meaning. A bit deconstructionist, maybe; simulacra and simulation, all that. Also, and on a more basic, less pedantic level: pretty amazing performances from those two kids. Twenty-two years later the little girl, Brigitte Fossey, would star in Altman's Quintet, something I've been considering watching as research for the other project. These two kids really sold complex emotional scenes that adult actors would have trouble with. Goes to show what a good director can do with the right cast. Gives me hope for (wince) working with children myself.
On the other hand: I'm too much a film geek not to immediately recognize this as a film bridging European realism into French New Wave. (I got that without any pointers, and then looked it up to see that scholars back up this claim. My film teachers would be so proud.) The story has that great subversive social attitude of Renoir's wonderful films (I'm thinking The Grand Illusion, The Human Beast and of course The Rules of the Game) but it's also a deliberate tone-shifter (every time it ought to be sad, it's actually quite funny), with obvious music cues and many scenes not about anything in particular. It's letting style carry it, just a little, and it feels just a little bit punk about the whole thing.