From acclaimed director Chantal Akerman and inspired by Proust’s La prisonnière, La captive an elegant meditation on desire, obsession, love, and possession.
Handsome, elegantly dressed, and hopelessly neurotic, Simon Levy (Stanislas Merhar) lives in a labyrinthine, half-renovated Paris flat with his ailing grandmother (Françoise Bertin), faithful family servant (Liliane Rovère), and Ariane Rey (Sylvie Testud), the object of his unquenchable desire.
Simon is obsessed with Ariane and keeps her as his willing captive. She tolerates his elaborate desires, his endless interrogations and surveillance. Still, Ariane is able to maintain her own reserve of privacy, her own mental and physical freedom. Although often affectionate to Simon, Ariane prefers women and so leads a double life. But this only magnifies Simon’s pain until his obsessive desires culminate in devastation and tragedy.
Dubbed by the Village Voice as “arguably the most important European director of her generation,” Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman is known for making innovative films that have often earned comparison to those of Jean-Luc Godard or Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Although she rejects the label of “feminist filmmaker,” Akerman has become a guiding light in making films about the real issues faced by women, employing an experimental, deeply personal approach to her subjects.
A disciple of Godard (who first inspired the then-15-year-old Akerman with his Pierre le fou), Akerman attended Brussels’ INSAS film school and the Universite Internationale du Paris. She demonstrated her devotion to Godard with her first amateur short subject, 1968’s Saute Ma Ville (Blow up My Town), which three years after its completion was entered in the Oberhausen Festival. Working on the fringes of show business in New York in the early ’70s, Akerman became an enthusiastic participant in the avant garde film… read more
A very touching mediation on two people caught on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the idea of love. The yearning that one character has to get to know everything about the other, is contrasted by the other character's desire to keep things pure by being as emotionally isolated as possible. The symmetrical images allow the feeling of captivity loom throughout the film--must watch!
I can't remember another movie, besides one I made in high school on a broken Super 8mm camera, that makes such sustained use of nearly illegible underlit and unlit darkness. I admire that audacity, but I'm less enamored of the audacity to focus on two such annoying characters.
Akerman’s Joseph Conrad adaptation sees its US release.
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