For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
Critics reviews
Céline and Julie Go Boating
Jacques Rivette France, 1974
The result is a joyously rule-breaking experimental feminist fantasy that tips its hat to the surrealist tradition, and the magic of silent-era serials. Be warned, there’s a certain amount of hippie-era goofiness, not least in the wardrobes.
June 24, 2017
Read full article
Integral to Céline and Julie Go Boating is the feeling of liquid identity, but Rivette’s characters are knowing spectators to their own madness, to the ultimate collapse of their personas, their tics and mannerisms influencing and trading with each other’s affectations.
December 24, 2015
Read full article
The loosely guided performances are often slack, and the thin depiction of daily life lessens the power of fantasy, yet Rivette’s fretful view of the dangers of stories is, in effect, a self-portrait as a cinephile on the verge of hallucination. The two women’s lust for real-world companionship, their need for vicarious heroism, and their trip through the labyrinths of repressed memories come across as the director’s job description.
December 11, 2015
Read full article
Rivette’s fondness for the fantastical is integral to the picture’s accessibility. Despite the slew of literary references – from Marcel Proust to Henry James – and the shifting metaphysical states, it’s a tricksy, playful film that absorbs the viewer into its unique world.
November 23, 2015
Read full article
For all of its reputation as a film studies favorite and perennial thesis subject, CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING is ultimately a great giddy fib of a movie, and probably the breeziest three-hour film ever made.
August 17, 2012
Read full article
In Rivette’s unsettling ending the movie reboots, with Céline chasing after Julie this time, and the effect is unflinchingly purgatorial. Don’t let the women’s smirks and wordplay fool you: The fact that art is eternal often makes it more horrifying than life itself.
April 30, 2012
Read full article
It’s not just that the film holds up to repeat viewings; its very point is its seemingly infinite repeatability, its mysterious capacity to surprise both first-time viewers and those who know it as well as a magician reciting an incantation.
April 27, 2012
Read full article
That any movie could successfully wield and weld the dual primary influences of Hawks’ facetious ode to capitalism (but ode nonetheless) and the anti-capitalist Situationists’ double principles of the dérive and détournement (and just look at the inside of Céline’s house to see how they’ve recreated the world as collage) is an achievement. Céline and Julie Go Boating manages to show how Hawks and the situationists are nearly one and the same.
June 23, 2008
Read full article
Céline and Julie seemingly predicts, among other things, the Lacanian cinema theory of Christian Metz’s Imaginary Signifier (1977) and Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (written in 1973, published in 1975). If the latter essay dissected the male’s gaze and the female’s “to-be-looked-at-ness” encoded in cinema, then Rivette’s film is remarkable in its positioning of its female leads as both characters and spectators (mostly) in control of the film’s subjectivity and outcome.
June 12, 2008
Read full article
No other film had ever been quite like it, with its interlaced stories apparently set in parallel realities, its long, half-improvised dialogues full of word-games and absurd poetic inventions, its restless subversive playfulness and its sweeping tracking shots through forgotten corners of Paris.
May 01, 2007
Read full article
Normally, I’d say: So what; it’s cutesy personal pastiche, but what does it all amount to? This feels different, and it has to do with the passage of Rivette’s personal timeline. With Céline and Julie, we move past the homage for its own sake, and we’re given the infrequent insight into a director making a midstream appraisal of his own career, and an interrogation of his own predilections.
November 17, 2006
Read full article
The duo’s final assault on this intertextual Mobius strip is liberating and brilliantly sustained, though it nonetheless resonates with a variety of discomforting implications (read between the lines for a despondent post-May ‘68 commentary) that belie the overall jocularity of Rivette’s presentation.
November 06, 2006
Read full article
The film’s dialectic isn’t so much an interplay between the past and the present as it is an elaborate confrontation between two very active spectators and a dodgy narrative text. Rivette fabulously engages silent film idiom (watch for the romantic imbroglio between a disguised Céline and Julie’s childhood crush and, later, the sweet homage to Les Vampires, a favorite of Rivette’s) as a means of rejecting the past (represented by the house).
December 11, 2003
Read full article
You are the ball being bounced through the film, and for that it comes off 23 years later as the film Peter Greenaway would dash all his charts and schemes to have the grace to make. In a very real and mysterious sense, and clocking in at over three hours, Celine and Julie is the endless, enveloping dream experience movies have promised us since their beginnings.
August 05, 1997
Read full article
By using a photo essay I wish to examine the sexual politics of nonverbal communication structures in the film. Furthermore, I also wish to elucidate the potential role of a film like this in commenting on and challenging the patriarchal ideological matrix in which “lesbian” functions as a negative term… The delight of the film resides in its whacky comedy, fantasy, improvisation, puzzle-like interior fiction, and stylistic inventiveness (especially a heightened use of color and sound)…
March 01, 1981
Read full article
The surfeit of privileged moments begins to cloy in a three-hour film already sustaining the natural leisure of Rivette’s mise-en-scène and the twice-told aspect of a fairytale structure. After an evocative beginning, Céline and Julie runs out of gas somewhere in its second hour, and one must wait for Rivette to push his extravagant vehicle over the hump. He does, and the film—building suspense and momentum—accelerates into a brilliant, bravura finish.
October 23, 1978
Céline and Julie Go Boating is a new organism, the atomization of a character, an event, a space, as though all of its small spaces have been de-solidified to allow air to move amongst the tiny spaces. A bit like a Cézanne watercolor, where more than half the event is elided to allow energy to move in and out of vague landscape notations, Rivette’s slap-happy duo in a musical without music can’t be defined.
November 01, 1976
In Celine and Julie, we have to watch ourselves watching, which is where the fun starts. And thanks to Rivette’s richly allusive understanding, the whole history of our common moviegoing experience is paraded before our eyes: cartoons, musical films, horror films, thrillers, Mizoguchi along with Minnelli, Renoir along with Hitchcock.
October 01, 1976
Read full article