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Critics reviews
Le pont du Nord
Jacques Rivette France, 1981
Le Pont du Nord" evokes what the German critic Walter Benjamin, writing about 19th-century French literature, called “the phantasmagoria of Parisian life,” a city in which “no matter what trail the flâneur may follow, every one of them will lead him to a crime.” Benjamin cites a novel where the hero initiates his adventure by following a windblown scrap of paper. “Le Pont du Nord” is Mr. Rivette’s successful gamble that a movie could be made the same way.
March 06, 2015
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Made in the aftermath of Rivette’s nervous breakdown, Le Pont du Nord finds the director recapturing his fondness for actorly interplay and a directing style that always uses its flourishes of movement to match and exaggerate the physicality of his performers. A wry humor creeps into the film.
February 16, 2015
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Like many Rivettes, the movie is a Bechdel Test champion, saturated with relaxed, self-possessed and undefensive womanhood. But most of all it has us dallying with these fabulous women on an almost childlike dream journey to nowhere — a form of play, and playacting — as though there were nothing better to do in the world.
February 13, 2015
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The result was a Rivette film with the free-form energy and inventiveness of a second debut, close in feel to his landmarkCéline and Julie Go Boating, but with the conspiratorial overtones of film noir standing in for Henry James, and all of Paris as its characters’ playground.
March 20, 2013
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If all of Le Pont du Nord’s games, rules, and neuroses point back to a single theme, it is the fear of death, and the possibility (or impossibility) of cheating death. It’s difficult to say more than that, because for everything you could say about Rivette’s attitude towards mortality, the opposite would likely be just as true. Death is the chief subject of comedy, and at the same time the tragedy for which all comedy exists to compensate…
March 19, 2013
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In Rivette’s rhapsodically probing view, the labyrinthine city of recondite romanticism and the bloody ideals of revolutionary heroism appear fated to vanish together, even as the chill of rational order reveals another shimmery layer of ingrained authority.
March 18, 2013
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There are few artists better than Rivette at uncovering the magical (even at its most menacing) in the everyday… Modern life is the gauntlet run by these characters, though the film’s bizarre, fascinatingly bitter finale ponders whether survival (and assimilation) is preferable to leaving it all behind.
March 18, 2013
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In its central female relationship and its ludic, free-floating form, the film obviously resembles Rivette’s earlier Celine and Julie Go Boating, though with most of the vibrancy dissipated by a low-level dose of modern paranoia: the overall mood is not unlike that of a round of hide-and-seek, in which the stakes might become deliberately confused, stranded somewhere between total lark and deadly seriousness.
March 13, 2013
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[Le Pont du Nord] leaves me with a whole album of indelible images and uncanny encounters… [It’s] the most alive movie I saw at the festival.
October 20, 1981
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