Léos Carax delves into the realm of pure cinema. His artifice is so bold and huge that the film doesn't emulate reality: it overcomes it, it becomes its own cosmos. It's simply astonishing that Carax was able to pull off a film of such power. This is one of the greatest love stories ever told on Cinema, on the level of Murnau's Sunrise & Vigo's L'Atalante (the clearest reference here, by the way)
How was this not the first movie I saw? As if in response to the affectations of his first films, this, a feral, kinetic variation on Chaplin as junkie, City Lights from the gutter. For the first time his characters achieve true beauty and despair irrespective of style, but boy does it help, every scene a thunderbolt of cinema. To think Lavant was a favourite before I'd seen this.
As in any Carax film, the colors, cinematography, and importance of vision are paramount. The film is also important because it is based on his own original screenplay. The music is also well chosen. Great performances. The technical aspects are awesome, overshadowing the above-average plot.
Cinema is clearly constantly being hatched in Carax's brain like a foam of bursting demonic dragon eggs. But this hyper-cerebral film-conceptualizer makes powerfully physical art. Denis Lavant is a big part of that. Has any actor ever used his body to commit such impossible acts of expression as Lavant does again and again for Carax? This is a big, brash, lurching bedlamite of a movie, and perfectly imperfect.