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Story of Marie and Julien
Exactly twelve years after his brilliant La Belle Noiseuse (1991) one of the true masters in contemporary French cinema Jacques Rivette returns with a project that proves to be as complex as it is demanding from its viewers. Intended as part of a series of four mythological films Histoire de Marie et Julien dates all the way back to 1970 when it was abandoned by his creator in favor of more lucrative, for the time being, projects. Now brought back to light with a significantly different structure the film relies on such stars as the Rivette favorite Emmanulle Beart (L'Enfer), Anne Brochet (Confidences trop intimes a.k.a Intimate Strangers), Nicole Garcia (La Petite Lili), and Jerzy Radziwilowicz (Secret Defense).
Histoire de Marie et Julien focuses on the relationship between Marie (Emmanuelle Beart) and Julien (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), a clock maker working at home. Having been separated for well over a year both Marie and Julien live their lives unsuspecting that fate has a plan for them. After an unusual dream Julien encounters Marie and the flame of an old affair is quickly rekindled. At first Marie seems receptive to Julien's initiations however when he attempts to get even closer to her she begins to avoid their meetings without an explanation. Strangely enough when Julien suggests that Marie moves to his house she enthusiastically accepts. And once again instead of being more intimate with each other the two lovers grow increasingly distant. There is a secret that lies deep inside Marie's soul which unfortunately Julien is unable to reach. He is saddened, intrigued, and certainly puzzled. In the meantime, Julien has to recollect himself and stay focused as Madame X, a wealthy lady he is blackmailing, has recognized Marrie. But what could Marie and Madam X have in common when they hardly even know each other?
Histoire de Marie et Julien is certainly an acquired taste, a film that demands as much from its viewers as it is willing to give back after the end credits roll. With duration of nearly three hours Jacques Rivette's latest film requires utmost concentration and patience that many may not be willing to spare. For those of you however that allow the famous maestro to lead you Histoire et Marie et Julien will reveal a complex, multi-layered story, which certainly leaves more than one questions for thoughtful analysis.
Just as it was the case with his earlier La belle Noiseuese (1991) and Va Savoir (2001) Jacques Rivette has created a film that takes its viewers on a long and often confusing journey of character exploration. Even when the audience is introduced to Marie and Julien, their mundane routine, their pains and struggles, the film feels as a mosaic where certain pieces require to be aligned perfectly. There are long moments of silence where Rivette lets his camera do the talk placing the actors in a near state of intellectual meditation. In fact, these are the moments when one could certainly draw a parallel between Rivette's slow, arguably pseudo-intellectual, narrative and Marcel L'Herbier's classic fantasy works-it becomes increasingly difficult for the viewer to separate reality from allusion.
What is not difficult to discern however is the pure perfectionism that oozes from the intimate scenes between Marie and Julien. Rivette seems to have reached the very soul of Emanuelle Beart and she is willingly revealing all that her character has to offer, her body, her soul, her physical self. It feels as if Rivette is once again molding her flesh, as he did in La Belle Noiusese, though this time in order to recreate a state of harmony between two lovers where words can hardly substitute what a film camera can show.
Histoire de Marie and Julien is certainly a flawed film as there are too many intellectual overtones one could find difficult to endure. There are moments when it feels as if the story almost comes to a standstill implying that the mystery we have been offered for analysis is just a gimmick added to spice up a purely elitist feature. On the other hand the open for interpretation story could be an enormously rewarding experience especially if you are willing to go a step beyond what the typical for the genre features offer.
How Does the Disc Look? How Does the Disc Sound? Extras: Interview with Emmanuelle Beart- Interview with Jacques Rivette- Original French theatrical trailer- Final Thoughts:
How Does the Disc Sound? Extras: Interview with Emmanuelle Beart- Interview with Jacques Rivette- Original French theatrical trailer- Final Thoughts:
Extras: Interview with Emmanuelle Beart- Interview with Jacques Rivette- Original French theatrical trailer- Final Thoughts:
Interview with Emmanuelle Beart-
Interview with Jacques Rivette-
Original French theatrical trailer-