C’est l’amour: escaping naturalism
by Alfonso Rivera
- The expert yet youthful Paul Vecchiali launches his latest film in Europe, which, like all his other films, challenges convention, styles and narrative flows
At the European premiere of C’est l’amour [+see also:
film profile], which was held last night as part of the official out of competition section of the XII Seville European Film Festival (“the most beautiful city in the world”, according to Paul Vecchiali), the filmmaker recalled how one year at Cannes, Bresson was welcomed with a lengthy round of applause before the screening of one of his films, but that the former film critic was also the only one left in the room by the end of it. Something similar happened last night with one of the biggest audiences Nervión Plaza, the epicentre of the Festival, has ever seen: more and more viewers left as the film went on. As is clear from the retrospective dedicated to the French director being held in Seville, the film does not follow the standard channels, and forces the viewer to concentrate and abandon their preconceptions to such an extent that is baffling and even irritating. So those who were left to relish the challenge laid down by this director, who is not widely known in Spain, in its entirety, got a glimpse of the incredible complexities of his curious and impulsive world, born from total creative freedom.
C’est l’amour opens with Vecchiali speaking into the camera and introducing the subject of the film which, as indicated by the title, is passion… or the fear of losing it. Then we meet Odile (played by Astrid Adverbe, who returns to working with this iconoclastic director after Nuits blanches sur la jetée [+see also:
film profile]) who senses that her husband is cheating on her and decides to get her own back by surrendering herself to Daniel, an actor who lives with a soldier forced to retire from his military career after being shot in the leg.
Sophisticated humour runs through this film, in which the viewer plays an active role: on two occasions, Vecchiali shows the same dialogue between two characters, pointing the camera first at one then at the other... so that the viewer can piece the material together to their liking. The end, furthermore, is without a conclusion, leaving it down to us to choose one of the many explanations presented to us.
With the collaboration of Noël Simsolo – to whom the film is dedicated – and with a screenplay written by Vecchiali, who produced the film himself through his company Dialectik together with Shellac Sud, C’est l’amour begins with opening titles written in blood in the shape of a passing train, features memorable dialogue (“I can deal with you cheating on me, but don’t lie to me”), contains sensually liberating musical scenes and uses strongly symbolic and intense colours.
Already in theatres in Argentina and Brazil, the film was shot with digital cameras last May and after seeing it, as Vecchiali guarantees, “the viewer leaves with some homework to do”: this can make it as baffling as it is modern and, without a doubt, boldly transgressive.
(Translated from Spanish)