Cannes 2015. Of Men and Bad Faith: Philippe Garrel's "In the Shadow of Women"

Bad faith goes deep and heroes are not what they seem.
Marie-Pierre Duhamel

Philippe Garrel has many times asked women co-writers to contribute to his scenarios and dialogs, and this time they are two. One man / two women is the very same scheme of the film's plot. Leading to various embarrassing discoveries for the male protagonist: his wife, loving and dedicated, in awe for his talent (as a documentary filmmaker), close to sheer fanaticism in her giving up on her own carrier for her husband's sake, admits she has a lover. Yet less than as a quartet, the film revolves around a trio, progressively unveiling the mechanisms of male bad faith. Bad faith as a compromise solution when female sexuality is revealed and when women cannot be taken for granted anymore. A bad conscience and the ravages of male pride weave into lies, ending in insult and suffering. Meanwhile, the couple is working on a film project about a hero of the French Resistance. Film (and strictly film, meaning film stock and no video) and filmmaking are also a place where bad faith goes deep, and heroes are not what they seem.

This story of an ordinary man (more ordinary than he may know) is told in a brilliantly stylized black and white film Paris through scenes of precise choreography, where the man is seen more than often lying in a bed or sitting quietly, while women stand up, move around, walk about, work and whirl. And speak. The man's few words are those of all the nuances of denial and bad conscience, while women look for the right words. Women may just well be fighting for their "shadow," the "dark" zone where they are not only devoted wives or passionate lovers, not roles anymore, but may want everything, all at the same time. In this apologue where irony constantly and delicately colors the drama,  space (rooms and streets) and time (past and present) are shaped and redesigned by the play of immobility and movement, words and silence, lies and truths, while Louis Garrel's off-screen voice builds the stations of a man's path towards… an ending which remains open to each viewer's interpretation: can men and women redefine together how to be heroes, are women doomed to keep their shadow for themselves? At least one thing is certain: nothing goes "without saying."

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CannesCannes 2015Philippe GarrelFestival Coverage
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