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IN PRASIE OF LOVE (Éloge de l’Amour)

By Rich Cline | May 6, 2003

This is the first Godard film released in the UK in 14 years … and on this evidence we can see why. Although the film is a brilliant visual work of art, it’s just too obtuse for a cinema-going public in search of escapism. Or a plot. There are two segments here: First, a crisp black and white story about a young man named Edgar (Putzulu) who wants to make an artistic statement about love. He can’t decide whether it should be a film, novel, opera or what, but he knows he wants to examine the four stages: attraction, passion, fighting and reconciliation. Across Paris he interviews various people, getting their thoughts and feelings, acting out little scenes and always thinking about a woman (Camp) he met two years earlier. The second part of the film looks at that meeting, in color-drenched digital video, when Edgar travelled to the coast to interview an elderly couple (Davy and Verny) about their experiences in the Nazi resistance for an opera he was working on. Obviously, that opera morphs into this love project as he gets to know their mysterious, combative granddaughter.
The film is basically a series of disjointed images and scenes that vaguely examine themes of love, nationalism and history. It’s intriguing, visually arresting and utterly impenetrable! There are even several heavy-handed swipes at Hollywood (most notably Spielberg’s Holocaust films and, for some reason, The Matrix). The meandering, disjointed structure is bewildering–sometimes funny or moving as it touches on the blur between art, nostalgia and commerce, but ultimately numbing as we never make any sense of it. Maybe we don’t have to figure it out; maybe we should just let its magical imagery and ideology wash over us. But the barrage of philosophy–phrases, quotes, slogans–becomes overwhelming as we never have time to let even one titbit sink in. Perhaps this should have become a book after all!

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