Wild Grass (Les Herbes Folles) Reviews
If this is the French New Wave, then I should start watching the Old Wave. In Wild Grass there is so little attention paid to good exposition that I found myself lost, wondering about the characters' relationships to each other even after the first act was a memory. And the performance by Andre Dussolier does little to reveal his character's motivations. Performances like these are good when the story is clear and solid, but Resnais's concentration is on that which is unclear, so the sum is a character who behaves strangely but whose motivations for his strangeness remain a mystery, unconnected to the random shots of weeds. And when he yells and snaps in a romantic story we wonder what the whole point is.
Overall, there are people who find this absurdist alienation interesting and refreshing, but I'm not one of them.
The visual panache of "Wild Grass" often reminded me of Pedro Almodovar. In fact, one could argue that "Wild Grass" bears some resemblance to Almodovar's most recent film, "Broken Embraces." Both are love letters to cinema. The actual story playing out on screen is almost beside the point. What one is meant to enjoy and reflect on is the movie-making process itself.
If this is to any degree true of Resnais's approach to this project, my response would be: People don't love cinema because it contains beautiful images flickering on a screen. They love cinema because it provides beautiful images that mean something. The story is what conveys the meaning. On its own, cinematography cannot do much. Without a great screenwriter, a director can't make cinema magic, no matter how good he or she is. "Wild Grass" woefully lacks a screenwriter.
In fact, at some point, the movie loses nearly all hinges, and practically becomes a parody of European arthouse cinema. Colorful, yes, but about as nourishing as lollipop regurgitation. Forget about incomplete character arcs and under- and un-developed characters; this movie ventures into a quiet absurdism where characters seem to do whatever, and things happen onscreen, but nothing is really tethered together with any kind of logic. But hey, pretty colors! Interstitial scenes of grass outgrowths on sidewalks (er, wild grass?)! Actresses that look like the French Tea Leoni (this is a good thing), French Idina Menzel, and a French muppet! So yeah, pretty disappointing considering the buzz I had heard going in. The final amusement of the film is that it may have oddly given me everything that I ever wanted for these characters: violent, violent death. Well, at least the possibility of it (the ?how? and ?why? of this will be explained in the film). Hey, a guy can hope.
Directed by Alain Resnais, "Wild Grass" is an engaging and light movie about obsession. It is never made clear what Georges went to prison for(that's okay), just that it is violent and quite possibly memorable. He still has violent thoughts, especially on petty items like women who wear black underwear with white pants after Labor Day. Like somebody who has been out of circulation for a while, he has trouble adjusting to the new world he finds, preferring a manual lawnmower and old movies.(Next time, please don't give away the ending.) So, his journey takes on a circular path towards a fake ending, before a real one and one truly enigmatic piece of dialogue that makes perfect sense if you think about it a little.
Non-sequiturs jar the audience concentration throughout the film and there is frequent use of symbolism. A broken fly along with an out of control plane, a man repainting his house as he tries to renovate himself. Some moments are absurd, like a party in the police station keeping officers from their duties or a dentist wilfully causing patients pain. The world is a random, crazy place.
The audience plays the role of observer, due to overhead shots or shots filming people from behind. The camera pans from one corner of the room to another and it is obvious several minutes have elapsed. The narrator shows the thoughts of the characters, their doubts, and second thoughts, instead of being an all-knowing voice. I think that these directorial strategies were instrumental in grabbing the attention of the audience and helping them relate to the characters.
Really, I don't
A strangely, entertaining film. Very unique and intriguing throughout. One of 2010's best films.