“Bigger inside that on the outside” can bring to mind cartoonish hammerspace, M.Poppins’ magic satchel or the Narnia cupboard, but Gregorio’s mansion with halls that, like urban streets, are directional as route yet static as a place, could be an emblem for one’s inner life. It’s not surrealism, but surdimensional buildup of the psyche. Or else, what is surrealism but apperception’s crux to weave together incongruous
Boring 70s male fantasies about, & insidiously trope-riddled ideas of, women, disguised as intellectualism. Or, worse, somehow woven in with some threads of intellectualism. Plays with formalism? Check. Otherwise self-referential? Check. Comments on some meta-element of narrative? Check. Must be profound? Bah. I call fraudulence. Conservatism of worldview, disguised as subversion. Not like Borges or Rivette at all.
'He now had only one question...what side of the mirror was he on?' De Gregorio's debut film as a director is a wonderfully scripted and oft-macabre affair featuring a trio of wonderful performances by the three female leads. Pisier, Caron and Ogier are perfectly cast here and the music score by Michel Portal is just perfect. An under sung gem bearing discovery.
This is the first film directed by de Gregorio I have seen, though like many I am a huge fan of the Rivettes and the Bertolucci upon which he served as scenarist. In its functional concision, minimal means, and wily fabulations, this is not only wonderfully conceived stuff, but extremely well-realized. Less indebted to cinema's surrealism than literature's, SÉRAIL is like an André Breton ménage à trois fou.
Obviously tempting to compare this to Rivette's 'Celine and Julie' given that De Gregorio 'co-wrote' that film, but I think a better comparison would be to Varda's 'Les créatures' in that the protagonist isolates himself from the world physically and ends up inside a bizarre 'game' with the people he meets. I suppose this film exists somewhere between the two...
A minor, half-born, half-made thing--all-half, let's say--Rivette collaborator de Gregorio's debut as a director, however surreal it may be, is certainly sub-Celine. Seen shorn of its interest-by-association--not to mention its luxly louche high-Seventies miasma--it doesn't amount to much. Neither does it subtract from much. It's neither here nor there, really, which may be "the point." If so, it's half-taken.