Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A reason to stay in my Apartment...

Yes, I've been stuck in front of my TV, watching movies since all the TV series I have been following so far are over and we're now waiting for the new seasons to air.

I've written a few lines about some of the movies I've watched lately but I didn't mention all of them. That may be because I had nothing special to say (not even bad)... Just for the record, I was not very impressed by Vantage Point (the concept is fine but I feel it's been done and we need something new; I was expecting more considering some of the cast members -- I'm not criticizing the acting which was fine, just the story and the execution); Hankock was also boring (even the surprise twist with Charlize Theron's character and I felt the ending was just not so interesting). But there was a funny scene which I can't help sharing:

But today, thank God, finally a good film: L'Appartement with the breathtaking Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Romane Bohringer. Excellent storyline, with a real twist (maybe stretched at some points, but totally believable to me) and good acting from all the cast. I've just discovered that there is an American remake that was released in 2004, eight years after the French original was made: Wicker Park. I'm going to try and get it just for fun. I usually don't care much for Hollywood's remakes of European cinema, but who knows... Back to L'Appartement.

The locations are beautiful, I'm not a big fan of all the furniture in Lisa's new apartment but the buildings, amazing! The theater is also as beautiful as the simple phone booth inside the bistrot. And the chosen streets in Paris feel so universal, yet so typical of this breathtaking city. We don't see the usual Champs-Élysées, or the Tour Eiffel for instance, instead we go in lovely old neighborhoods, in small cafés and this amazing (to me) little square on the Luxembourg. Nothing that screams stereotypical Paris in particular, which suits the movie and its message that couldn't be more universal (love and passion) and yet this Parisian feel everywhere.

Lisa's look and beauty reminded me of Almodóvar. Her red in the midst of plain, regular colors all around her obviously projects her inner passion and the intensity she engenders in others. At the end, Alice wanted (to be) her. Max wanted her. And as it usually goes with passion-driven characters in tragedies, the intensity she creates ends up burning her. Literally.

The end could be viewed as far-fetched to some but in fact, it is exactly as it should be.

Lisa dies before she can even meet Max again which is OK because the whole point might have looked like "the search for Lisa" but in fact, Max was searching for that past emotions and feelings that Lisa represents in his memory.

Alice's decision to leave at the end, despite Max showing up for her shows the clarity at the end. She finally realized that he doesn't really love her but he's just infatuated with the concept of passion.

He clearly doesn't want Lisa anymore and he was clinging to the memory of the passion he felt when he was with her; some sort of distorted memory of the woman. After reading Alice's diary, he realized she had this intensity he was longing for which is why he can switch from Lisa to Alice in only a few minutes.

Passion despite being so attractive and intense is also fatal. Lisa who is the only one who never lets go of this fire inside her ends up dying at the hands of another man madly infatuated with her and who could have easily been Max, had he stuck to his obsession.

At the end, Max returns to his fiancée whom we don't know but can only assume represents Max's stable, reliable love. Not passion. Just love.

Alice who could have been Max if the movie was focusing on her quest for passion rather than on Max's also lets go of her intense, mad feelings at the end and in doing so, lets go of the object of her obsession. After all, Max comes back to her and by doing so, is now available, hers and real. He can no longer represent passion since he finally becomes a reliable, attainable stability. And who knows what's next for her... She may continue her pusuit of passion and find a new obssession or just settle down just like Max.

I do love the jeweler's scene which is such a subtle and smart foreshadowing opening for the film. Max is hesitant between three rings which are described by the jeweler as women who so happen to have the same qualities and characteristics as Lisa, Alice and the fiancée. Max hesitates to chose a ring and we get the feeling that he would like to have all the qualities in one ring (person?) and then later, falls for the three women. We cannot really say he makes a choice at the end, since fate seems to push him to his destination, ultimately, love rather than passion; normality rather than intensity; his fiancée rather than Lisa or Alice.

It may be a bit extreme to conclude with Freud here, but as I was thinking about these characters, I felt like Max could be the Ego (Moi) struggling in the normality of his reasonable life represented by his fiancée or what could be the Superego (Surmoi) and the obvious Id (Ça) embodied in Lisa (and Alice, which indeed reflects that the woman herself was never the goal Max pursued).

The growing fear of being stuck in this "normal" life is emphasized in the first scene during which he cannot purchase the ring which can be perceived as cold feet, and later prompting the need for his secretary to remind him to call the jeweler and make a decision; then again, he forgets and chokes when he hears the words "alliance" which in French means wedding ring and which finally reminds him to make the call. Choking could be a reaction to his forgetfulness or could also be a sign of cold feet.

This story may be in fact Max's journey before he can finally settle down.

. S H A R E . T H I S . P ✮ S T .

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