The wide range of characters in question are conduits of different philosophical schools. Paul's sex life is a cocktail of existentialism representing Cynics, Absurdists, Nihilists as he defines himself between Nietzsche, Heidegger and Kierkegaard. Even religion is touched on by Paul's brother, where his cousin has a Stoic approach. This creates a literally philosophical film that is made richer by some awareness.
I saw this on release and swooned. I recall having an almighty crush on Marianne Denicourt and indeed this film more than almost any other helped form 'theoretical Paris' during the 90s: gorgeous, complicated, unattainable women and slightly shambolic men wandering around between cafes, university campuses and huge apartments. I need to watch it again before the next 20 years are up.
This didn't work for me, despite a great cast that includes Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Devos, Emmanuel Salinger, Marianne Denicourt, and more (even a young Marion Cotillard has a memorable appearance). It DOES have some good points to make, but those are lost on the way, with many scenes featuring too much going on to stay focused on the key ideas.
Positively Altmanesque in its multi-story refractions. Unsympathetic characters (Brechtian alienation) are still absorbing in their pre-mid life relationship woes whilst pursuing careers in academia. It speaks to the pseudo-intellectual in all of us still in the throes of their fifth or sixth phase of adolescence - a fascinating comedy drama which intentionally evokes alienation alongside aspects of identification.
Very French, very funny, very existential, very meta, very psychoanalytic, very long, very good, and very exasperating. Most impressive was that it allowed the characters to make fools of themselves without being mean-spirited, cynical or simply ironic - a balancing act achieved by the film's identification with it's own characters. Also you can play continental philosophy bingo to it...
La performance gracieuse de Emmanuelle Devos, ça donne vraiment du sens au film, que j'ai adoré par rapport à l'étude des caractères et à l'analyse des liens entre eux: l'amour, l'amitié, la vie... tout cela, mérite d'être soumis à une refléxion, souvent philosophique, mais empirique aussi. Nous ne sommes faits que par des touches et blessures de l'Autre sur notre propre peu et au plus profond de notre chair.
This film was a bittersweet surprise, it hits a little close to home, but some of the strangeness definitely comes from the fact it deals with conflicts of people in their late 20's and early 30's, and things do get complicated. we are thrown into a dense network of ideological confusion, co dependency and pretentious characters. some of the men x women bothered me, but discussions go well beyond that manicheaism.
Paja intelectual a la parisina. Un poco larga pero pero representativa y entretenida. Me recordó mis años estudiantiles; las intrigas cruzadas entre amigos de la facu. El casting más cool de la época en Francia: Chiara Mastroiani, Denis Podalydes, Emmanuelle Devos, Jeanne Balibar, entre otros!
OMG, you showed this film really recently! Why are you showing it again? It's not exactly a masterpiece... You showed this film a couple of years ago, maximum. Please note that I am protesting in general about the number of films you are showing again in a very short space of time. We don't pay our membership fees for endless repeats. If other members would like to comment, I would appreciate some support here.
An intricate, ambitious, Dickensian study of people within an academic milieu, a film which is lovingly tangential, focused on the minute facets of such a wide range of characters. Its novelistic narrative design is hard to convey as Desplechin has no qualms with letting his cinematic eye extensively diverge, examining the illuminations, efforts, and natures of so many. The final hour is epiphanic in its movements.