Avant que j'Oublie (Before I Forget) Reviews
'BIF is not an easy watch.' Boy, are you not kidding with that statement. As a moviegoer who likes to like movies, it takes a lot to have me eyeing the exit door during a movie or start to make a mental shopping list. However, this had negatives piling up and up as it went along its tedious way.
For a start it is almost completely flaccid in terms of narrative. Then if we look at it from the perspective of the observation movie of human-in-throes-of-existential-nightmare, it fails because the protagonist's character is so a) unlovable and b) essentially uninteresting. Much of the film saw Nolot's character pacing about at home, writing, sipping and smoking: this is not enough to draw the viewer into his world, his dilemma, his misery. Chain smoking does not equal pain. Even as metaphor for misery, constant sparking up doesn't remotely do it. Our man simply appears boring, therefore we are bored.
Our hero's friends are repellant too, but, I suspect, aren't meant to be. They present the homosexual at his most unappealing: superficial, self-absorbed and sex obsessed to a painful degree. The man who accepts payment for his services in terms of delivering a blow job is grim watching at the ethical and moral level. As a straight man, I wasn't remotely thrown out of stride by the the pretty gay frank sex, but to observe the moral and personal degregation of the receiver was interesting only to consider the utter awfulness of the remains of this supposed late Parisian demi-monde. If the film maker is not able to make capital out of such an exchange, and for me this auteur absolutely wasn't, then it only remains for the viewer to critically damn the film.
So, grimly unsympathetic characters, no narrative energy, rotten film.
And so to some of the reviewers hereabouts. Comments on the lighting and the visual presentation all round are laughable. The comment on the chiaroscuro of the naked protag making coffee (comparisons with Bacon, etc) are at best deeply mistaken, at worst, pathetic. Cinematographically, the film was unremarkable. The positive vote for the music was utterly hysterical: there WAS no music until a very late entry of some portentous orchestral navel gazing courtesy of Gustav Mahler. If this was intended to heighten the drama, it failed. Rather it only emphasized the fact that the failure of the film maker to leaven his drudgery represented a bsd mistake. One of the arts of great movie making is to present the awfulness of some folk's existence as tolerable, watchable, gripping even. This was existential predicament as something patently unwatchable, so utterly lame was it.
All this said, for our gay friends, the movie-going experience here may well have been absolutely absorbing and I would respect such a view totally. As a heterosecual, what do I know about how this film would reach into the emotional space of the homosexual? So let me qualify my conclusion. This was a monumentally wretched movie if you're straight. It's a shame that the liberal press (of which I remain a consumer, as a liberal) is in the grip of a moral cowardice. Why couldn't at least some of them pan this movie? Because no liberal intellectual in the present day dares to challenge the ridiculous iron grip of those who wield the sword of political correctness in the media.
Such is cultural life in the United Kingdom at the end of the first decade of the 21st century.
And yet, I was quite glad to have seen this movie. Only by watching the truly bsd can we wholly grasp the wonder of the truly great. I held fairly constant conversations with my pal during the movie, breaking my strict moral movie-going code, but this was the only way I could hold on for the last hour (Dan wanted to go for a beer and he isn't even much for drinking), but I was glad, for the above reason that I did. And there was one moment of high mirth. 'The only thing I'm interested in these days is suicide,' says Notot at one point. Oh, how we giggled. It isn't enough to mouth miserable words to emotionally engage the audience: our hilarity was in the director's complete failure to understand one of the obvious truths of film making.