Va Savoir by Veteran French New Wave director Jacques Rivette is a beguilingly playful, psychological comedy drama that revolves around six characters in Paris whose lives intersect for a brief period of time.
The main character is Camille (the lanky and awkward Jeanne Balibar) who has come to Paris doing a Pirandello play with her boyfriend Ugo (Sergio Castellitto) who is the lead actor and director of the production. Most evenings they perform the play but on their days off they go about other business. Camille recalls her past relationship with an old boyfriend Pierre (Jacques Bonnaffe) and Ugo goes to a local library to try and find a long lost play by an 18th Century playwright named Goldoni. Both become alienated from one another and drift apart for a short while.
Camille seems to reconsider a relationship again with Pierre even though he is married and Ugo becomes smitten with a young blonde student named Do (Helene de Fougerolles) who assists him in his search for the play.
The other two characters are Pierre's wife Sonia (Marianne Basler) a ballet teacher and Do's brother Arthur (Bruno Todeschini) who strikes a roguish figure. To round out the inevitable connection between everyone these two become involved in an affair with each other.
Each of the characters seems to be on shaky ground especially with one another and the film essentially does the same thing to the audience. At no point in the film was I able to tell what was going to happen next. It's part comedy and drama but there is also an underlying and unsettling mysteriousness to the film. It's as if Rivette wanted to play with our minds a bit and make us think about what we are watching.
Like most of Rivette's films there is a line between fiction and 'reality' that becomes blurred. Like many of the films of the French Nouve Vague in the 1960's Rivette takes a common plot device – in this case the romantic comedy drama – and twists and turns it making us see it in a different way.
In this case the play that Camille and Ugo are in allegorically parallels the action. In between each scene we see a different section of the play, which is way out of context yet it forces us to consider there is some connection between the play and the lives these people have. And just to emphasize this point as the film goes on each of the character's lives cross one another and eventually they all end up together on the set of the stage acting out their own comedy drama in a rather satisfying way.
The DVD is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio and looks great. The colors are sharp, the lighting is perfect and the image is clear. I was only able to detect a hint of compression artifact in the background of a couple shots.
The films is presented in French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround and sounds good.
There is a theatrical trailer and that's it. Of course there are chapters and since the film is in French there are subtitles, which can be removed. This is the kind of film that in years may have a cult following and critics that have theories about the whole thing.
This French film is not easy to categorize, which – in my book – makes it all the more worthwhile. It's sort of a beguiling, betrayal comedy drama with mystery and metaphorical concepts at the edges. It is long at 157 minutes and it is 'very French' in the sense that it is more character driven that plot driven even though there is a decent plot.