The movie is a story told quickly through a series of stills, as in La jetée, with quavery synth music and dry French narration. It is interspersed with scenes of barking dogs, shot live-action with natural sound and no narration.
Dogs on a vacant lot bark at each other over the credits.
Kids in a schoolyard. “The woman you call mum isn’t your mother”. “Monique turned pale on hearing those words from a school friend.” Madame Duvivier tells little Monique that Marie, the woman who often comes by, is the real mother. Marie tells Monique that she doesn’t know who Monique’s father is. Monique flees Bordeaux. “From now on, sex and domination shall rule Monique’s life.” Monique is a nurse, has illicit affairs with her male patients. Christmas eve 1966 she dances with rich, 65-year-old Hubert, intends to seduce him for his money. Monique becomes a “cold and dry voiced whore” with “an urge for revenge”.
Dogs bark in apartment windows and balconies.
Monique falls for the TV repairman, Henri, who she remembers from her hometown. She starts a new life, opening the Joli Mont cafe, but “in fact she’s buying her own death”. Henri helps her run it. Alice, a friend from home, comes to visit, blackmails Monique to not tell Henri about her sad past, has an affair and falls in love with Henri. When the three are in the park, Monique kills herself and her 3-year-old son Paul-Henri. Dogs bark.
“Henri’s only option is to marry Alice, his wife’s intimate friend, who dominates him. In a way, Alice was buying her own death.” Alice tells about both women’s pasts on their wedding night. Henri has an urge for revenge. He grabs an empty bottle of wine, which turns into a knife between images, and kills Alice. Dogs bark. Henri cuts up Alice’s body and hides the parts all over town, which switches to live-action for a bit, with no dogs but the sound of children singing.
Back to stills. Henri goes to Marseilles and falls into some shady dealings with gangsters, is jailed for 5 years. He nurses a sick cellmate with whom he has an affair. The police draw a map of the body parts they’ve found, which form a circle, the Joli Mont cafe at the center. “The universal geometric laws gave him away”. Live action street shots, adults singing on the soundtrack, no dogs.
Stills. Mr. Benami tells Henri about sex-change operations in Casablanca, “the perfect disguise”. “Henri Odile has become a charming young lady.” Christmas eve 1974 she’s invited out by a rich, 65-year old man, intends to seduce him for money. Odile becomes a prostitute. Goes back to Montsouris, sees the Joli Mont is for sale, buys and runs it, adopts young Luigi. One evening, 18-year-old Fernand comes to the bar with a bottle of wine / knife / empty glass, kills Odile. Dogs barking. At school, Luigi is pestered by his friends. “Your mother was killed by her lover.” “That’s not true. The woman you call my mother wasn’t my mother.” Credits. —IMDb
Chilean filmmaker Raúl, or Raoul, Ruiz (1941-2011) was one of the most exciting and innovative filmmakers to emerge from 1960s World Cinema, providing more intellectual fun and artistic experimentation, shot for shot, than any filmmaker since Jean-Luc Godard. A guerrilla who uncompromisingly assaulted the preconceptions of film art, this frightfully prolific figure – he made over 100 films in 40 years – did not adhere to any one style of filmmaking. He worked in 35mm, 16mm and video, for theatrical release and for European TV, and on documentary and fiction features and shorts. His career began in avant-garde theatre where, between 1956 and 1962, he wrote over 100 plays. Although he never directed any of these productions, he did dabble in TV and filmmaking in the early 1960s. In 1968, with the release of his first completed feature, the Cassavetes-like Tres tristes tigres (1968… read more
brilliant...witty and hilarious. One of the finest short films ive seen. Watch it here... http://vimeo.com/9359296
A melodramatic card game of circles and liberation from circles overlaid with enough self-parody to make it a shifting field of modernist irony (PS: The article by Maxim Pozdorovkin attached in the Notebook article down below is pretty funny: it reads the film as straight melodrama! And seems to miss the tongue-in-cheek aspects of the film thus falling prey to its own brand of melodramatic seriousness! )