A handsome, elegantly dressed, hopeless neurotic lives in a labyrinthine, half-renovated Paris flat with his ailing grandmother, faithful family servant, and Ariane Rey, the object of his obsessive, unquenchable desire and his willing captive in this story inspired by Proust’s La prisonnière.
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Fascinating, in itself and full stop, but also when considered in tandem with, and as a kind of corollary to, Verhoeven's Elle, for which it provides an only partial corrective. Proust's source material--itself a halfway-house in which Akerman's borrowed characters dither and moon--emphasizes the unknowability of the desired, and the undesirability of the known. At least among men and women. If that's what these are.
A very touching mediation on two people caught on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the idea of love. The yearning that one character has to get to know everything about the other, is contrasted by the other character's desire to keep things pure by being as emotionally isolated as possible. The symmetrical images allow the feeling of captivity loom throughout the film--must watch!
I can't remember another movie, besides one I made in high school on a broken Super 8mm camera, that makes such sustained use of nearly illegible underlit and unlit darkness. I admire that audacity, but I'm less enamored of the audacity to focus on two such annoying characters.