Jacques Rivette was one of the founding fathers of the "nouvelle vague".
Paris nous Appartient/ Paris belongs to us (1960) is a low-budget film
that follows Rossellini's neorealism in shooting on location
and painting a social and moral fresco; at the same time, it experiments with
new forms of narration and mixes different forms of aesthetic, and it shares
with Antonioni's early film the spleen of urban alienation.
Anne, a girl who is studying English literature, checks on her Spanish
neighbor, a girl
who is having a hysterical crisis because her friend Juan has been murdered and
she thinks that all of Juan's friends will be murdered too.
The Spanish girl seems to be reassured that Anne is Pierre's sister.
Later Anne meets her elder brother Pierre at a cafe, after one month that they
haven't seen each other, and tells him about his neighbor. He doesn't seem to
care and instead introduces Anne to his girlfriend Ida, and then invites Anne
to attend a party with them. They mention that a famous US journalist, Philip,
will be there. He lives in exile because he has been indicted in the USA by
the McCarthy commission as a communist.
At the party Anne is getting bored. Philip is drunk and annoys everybody.
The others talk about Juan's suicide. He was a talented musician.
Before dying Juan made a last tape of his music, that one of the guests calls
"Music of the Apocalypse".
Terry, Philip's ex girlfriend, also from the USA,
walks in just when Anne is walking out,
and Anne witnessed the scene that he makes, accusing her of leading Juan
She is now the girlfriend of an actor, Gerard, and Philip warns him that she
will lead him too to certain death.
Bernard, the host of the party and the man who has been helping Philip, tells
Philips that he needs to find his own place. Anne sees him later walking in
the street but he hardly recognizes her. She is with her friend
Jean-Marc, an aspiring actor, who is getting involved with a project by
Terry's boyfriend Gerard. Gerard is a theatrical director who wants to stage
an obscure Shakespeare play, "Pericles", and is looking for actors.
Jean-Marc even doubts that Shakespeare wrote that play.
Anne tells Jean-Marc that she is studying for an exam, that she is too busy
for anything else, but then she lets Gerard drag her on stage.
Jean-Marc quits, Anne joins.
Unfortunately, the company has no permanent stage, so every time
they need to improvise a new place for rehearsals.
Outside Anne meets Philip, who is sober. Philip talks in riddles, and
everybody seems to think that he is being paranoid. Philip sees conspiracies
everywhere. When a man is run over by a car in front of them, Philip pulls
Anne away in a hurry. Then he tells her that anybody who gets near him or
Terry is in danger, that Gerard is in danger.
Juan was a victim of this conspiracy.
Philip warns Anne against Terry and against himself.
Back home se realizes that her Spanish neighbor has disapeared.
She looks for Philip and finds him lying unconscious on the floor of a hotel
room, apparently the consequence of some disease he picked up during the war.
He recovers quickly and still speaks in riddles about some kind of
conspiracy, but now he wants her to forget everything that he told her.
Anne, instead, is neglecting her exam. Terry walks in without knocking and
makes Anne leave. Philip's room is decorated with childish drawings and Terry
gives one to Anne as a souvenir. Then Philip and Terry talk alone (the first
scene that we see not through Anne's eyes). They talk about some danger that
looms on all of them, but Terry refuses to leave Gerard even if it will
jeopardize his life. Philip is not paranoid, after all, because Terry seems
to know the secret that terrifies him.
Anne and Gerard discuss the play by the river and the conversation becomes
philosophical. He mentions that Juan had made a tape of music for the play
while staying at Terry's place, but the tape is lost.
She has no experience as an actress, but she is willing to sacrifice her
studies for Gerard's "unplayable" play (his characterization).
The actors meet outdoors for another rehearsal. Actors quit all the time.
Anne is sure that Philip is telling the truth and that Gerard is in danger,
and the mystery seems to be the main reason that she's willing to hang out
with him and his crazy project. Anne volunteers to look for the missing tape,
convinced that it is somehow related to the whole intrigue.
A friend finds the address where Juan died and Anne begins his investigation
there: a single mother, Aniouta, was his former girlfriend, but knows nothing
about the tape. She mentions, however, that Juan, after meeting Terry, had
started talking about politics.
Aniouta mentions an economist, a man whom Anne met briefly at the party.
Anne visits him and asks him the same questions about the tape: he tells
her that she will never find it.
Anne keeps Pierre informed of her actions.
Anne is now obsessed with finding out how Juan died, where the tape is, and
saving Gerard's life.
The next rehearsal takes place in an abandoned warehouse, and, again, there
is an actor missing. Gerard loses his patience with the actors, who are
distracted by their daily jobs, and with Anne, who is obviously not up to
Anne visits Philip again in his tiny hotel room. A neighbor of Philip's,
a Finnish model, tells Anne that Juan was hanging out with leftists at a cafe.
One of them tells Anne that Juan was afraid of a fascist spy, and mentions
a girl, Tania.
Anne doesn't completely confide in her brother Pierre because he is a
practical man, not inerested in gossip and conspiracies.
The next rehearsal of Gerard's play is taking place in someone's house.
Gerard announces that a theater has accepted to stage the play.
The actors are ecstatic, but Terry doesn't seem happy.
In fact, she dumps him abruptly in front of everybody.
The deal comes with a catch: Gerard has to accept changes in the cast, and
one such change is to get rid of Anne for a more famous actress.
Anne tries to make contact with Terry but Terry doesn't want to see anyone.
While Anne is visiting Philip again, the police carries out a rain in
the hotel. The Finnish model tells Anne that Philip was expecting something
Gerard's rehearsals now take place at a professional theater, but he is
frustrated by all the decisions that are made by the management.
He wants to see Anne, but Anne learns by chance the address of Juan's friend
Tania and immediately visits her. This woman sounds a bit crazy and also talks
about an impending catastrophe, but in quasi-religious terms. She however
provides important information about Juan's sister: she was a militant sent
on a secret mission to Spain (Spain was run by a fascist dictator at the time)
and then disappeared, probably arrested or shot. Tania doubts that the tape
Gerard visits Anne to tell her that he quit, and that he lost Terry.
He seems interested in her but she is cold towards him.
After another talk with Pierre, during which she admits being in love with
Gerard, she returns home to find a note by Gerard who says that he will take
his life if she doesn't phone him by midnight, and it is already past
midnight. She runs through the city (the metro is not running at that hour)
but can't find Gerard.
She phones for help but can't find anybody: Pierre has disconnected the phone
to sleep, and Philip has disappeared. She eventually calls Jean-Marc, who
suggests to check with Terry.
Philip, who has been missing for a week, is staying at Terry's place
(the second scene that we see not through Anne's eyes).
Philip hides when Anne arrives.
Terry admits that she has Juan's tape and actually plays it to Anne.
Then Terry tells her of a worldwide conspiracy by the same people who
started World War II. Terry is so afraid of what could happen that
she always carries a poison pill. It turns out that Philip learned a dangerous
secret by accident and then he told her. The secret is so devastating that
they couldn't share it together anymore. But then the secret was driving her
crazy and she told Juan, who was found dead, and then she told Gerard.
Terry explains that she became the lover of the powerful economist,
because he could help Gerard, but then she couldn't stay with Gerard anymore
after he signed with the theater.
Anne leaves determined to break into Gerard's apartment.
Jean-Marc is waiting for her downstairs, and Anne doesn't tell him anything
about what she heard from Terry. They find Geraard with another woman.
He denies writing the message and tears it to pieces in front of her.
The biggest riddle is why the girl cares at all: the murder and everything else
has nothing to do with her, and she doesn't seem to be in love with any of
these men. Perhaps she, a provincial girl who just arrived in the big city,
an innocent among corrupted and selfish people,
is simply intrigued by the lifestyle of the intellectuals,
who live in an alien world.
Rivette turns upside down stereotypes of classic cinema. For example,
this is a detective story, but instead of the hard-boiled male detective the
protagonist is a naive girl. There is a
femme fatale, whose secret is a curse that kills her lovers,
but she is a curious hybrid of Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.
She clearly enjoys playing cat and mouse with the innocent.
The plot is clearly implausible, especially towards the end, when the femme
fatale admits killing a man only because she got upset, and his sister
reacts only mildly to the news; nor did anyone think of calling the police
after finding that a man had committed suicide. We are left with the doubt
that all the killings were the work of the femme fatale, and that the
entire spy thriller only took place in her old lover's imagination, a
convenient alibi for her.
Pierre and Anne are watching a showing of the Babel scene from
Fritz Lang's Metropolis
with the usual friends when someone phones her: Gerard has killed himself.
Anne runs out to the place where Terry and Philip have found the body.
Anne begs for an explanation, but doesn't get one: Philip is not sure of
anything, whether it is just a coincidence that two men committed suicide
or whether they have been murdered by the "organization" or whether they
were simply pushed towards suicide. The economist is one of their agents.
The phone rings: Pierre, panicking, admits that he worked for the economist
and now has rebelled, and so he fears for his life. Philip says that he
always suspected Pierre. Terry and Anne pick up Pierre and Terry drives
Pierre out of town in her two-seat car, while Anne takes a taxi to that
location. Philip and Gerard's actors are already there, an
isolated house by a lake. Philip reveals that
Juan's sister sent a message that Juan was murdered by fascists.
Terry shows up without Pierre and Anne is suddenly taken by the thought
that Terry has killed Pierre (and perhaps Juan too?) Terry shows Philip
some proof that Pierre wasn't guilty after all. Philip has
has another attack. Anne is told that the economist drove Gerard to commit
sicide by acquiring the rights to the play. This time Terry contradicts
herself: the organization exists only in Philip's mind.
She admits that she killed Pierre after finding an ignoble letter by
the economist. Terry and Philip drive away.
The actors are determined to stage "Pericles" and ask Anne to play the old role.
L'Amour Fou (1968) is a four-hour black and white film with an open plot, mostly improvised by the actors.
There is a story about a marriage breakdown, filmed in 35mm, and a story about
staging Racine's "Andromaque", filmed with a hand-held camera (in 16mm).
A woman is leaving on a train: the film is one long flashback to show what
caused her to leave.
Actors are preparing to recite.
Elsewhere, a man sitting on the floor in a corner of the room listens
to the recording of a woman.
The actors rehearse their lines.
The actress tells the director that she can't work in such conditions and quits.
The rehearsal is being filmed.
It turns out that Sebastien, the director, lives with Claire, the actress who
Sebastien phones his ex girlfriend Marta and she accepts to replace
Claire. Claire, in turn, attends the rehearsals, curious to see how the troupe
works without her. At home Claire and Sebastien behave like a couple in love,
but Claire started following Sebastien to see what he does when he leaves
the theater. Claire is jealous of all the women, not only Marta. Another
attractive one is the black actress Celia who is playing Andromaque in the
tragedy. (Claire is playing in real life Racine's jealous Hermione)
There is an embarrassing conversation between the two women while Sebastien
plays bongos (actually a Claire monologue). The following morning, while he
is still sleeping, she takes a needle and almost sticks it into his eye.
he wakes up, pulls her into the bed and makes love to her.
However, Sebastien is indeed attracted to the gorgeous Marta and tries to
sleep with her.
The filmmaker who is filming the rehearsal interviews Sebastien about the
possibility of him (Sebastien) playing a key character in the tragedy.
Sebastien decides to sleep at the theater. A girl calls in the middle of
the night to tell him that Claire tried to commit suicide but only hurt
herself a little bit.
(Back to the present for a few seconds, we see again Claire in the train).
Sebastien brings a record to Claire and they listen to music together.
Claire becomes obsessed with a particular kind of dog and walks around
town trying to find one.
Claire spends hours recording monologs in the tape recorder.
An aspiring actress calls who wants to meet Sebastien.
Claire hangs up.
They live together again but the relationship is turbulent.
Sebastien brings a kitten home.
During the day Claire, alone at home with the kitten, chronicles in the tape recorder
everything that goes on in the street below.
Meanwhile, the indefatigable Sebastien continues the rehearsals.
The camera focuses on two empty chairs, then the chairs get blurred, then
Claire at home is going crazy, playing with the tape recorder, cataloging
all the sounds she can.
Sebastien is interviewed about the meaning of his production while the actors
lying on the floor. Meanwhile Claire is out shopping. When she gets home,
she phones the theater asking for Marta. Marta has left and Claire hangs up
without answering the person who has recognized her voice. Then she phones
Marta's place and invites her to a cafe.
We don't know what they discuss because the scene ends abruptly.
Sebastien and some of the actors are meeting in a room decorated with exotic
wallpaper. Claire is also there, bored. The mood is subdued because they feel
that the production is not going well.
During a pause in the conversation Claire tells the girls that Sebastien is driving her crazy, but nobody listens to her. Sebastien makes fun of her by offering
her a gun and then faking a suicide.
Claire leaves, furious, and later tells him that she wants a divorce.
Later, Sebastian is sitting speechless and staring at her, while she, now
wearing a classy miniskirt, is cleaning up.
He doesn't feel like going to work but she takes him to the door and kisses
him. Then she crouches on the couch and cries. She turns on the tape recorder
and listens to her mad recordings.
The filmmaker senses a change in Sebastien's mood.
Claire phones her ex Philippe and meets him at his place, where they make love.
In the evening she tells Sebastien that she is leaving him.
Sebastien calmly sets out to destroy all of his clothes in front of her.
The mood at the theater is more and more negative.
Claire returns and lets Sebastien make love to her. He abandons the troupe
to spend time with Claire, who now seems happy. They are in bed all the time:
they talk, they make love. When they get up, they wear strange clothes (he
looks like a drag queen) and, armed with hammers, they set out to demolish
the wall that separates their apartment from the neighbor's. Then they cross
into the other apartment and make love on their neighbor's couch.
They destroy the tv set.
The mood turns from jovial to tragic again when she suddenly tells him
that she doesn't want to see him again.
He calls the theater that he is ready to resume the rehearsals.
This time work proceeds quickly and they get ready for opening night.
Sebastien explores the demolished apartment now that Claire is gone.
Someone calls to tell Sebastien that Claire is leaving.
We see Claire and her friend at the train station.
The actors are getting ready for the opening.
Sebastiene walks alone in the street and stares at his reflection in a
shop's window. At home he sits in a corner
the phone rings: the actors are calling him. He doesn't pick up.
The actors are nervous. The audience is already sitting in the chairs
(very few people though).
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Out 1 (1970) dura più di dodici ore:improvvisazione e
psicodramma, dialoghi reali degli attori che contribuiscono a creare il film.
Spectre (974) is a shorter version.
Duelle (1976) è la versione moderna di un mito (due che possono
vivere sulla Terra soltanto un breve periodo all'anno, ma se riuscissero a
rubare un diamante potrebbero restarvi per sempre, e una di loro si
sacrificherà) girato nel tipico milieu dei thriller.
Il cinema di Rivette è un'accesa meditazione sul dualismo
esistenza/immaginazione, realtà/sogno, vita/teatro.
Celine et Julie Vont en Bateau/ Celine and Julie Lose Their Minds (1974) e` forse il suo capolavoro.
L'Engrenage/ Merry-Go-Round (1978), unreleased for three years, is
an amateurish thriller. The
plot is so ridiculous and the acting is so bad that it feels like Rivette
is making a parody of cinema.
The film opens with two jazz musicians (bassist Barre Phillips and saxophonist John Surman) improvising, and the duo appears again during the film.
Ben arrives at a hotel, where he has been summoned by a
mysterious Elisabeth. The hotel staff informs him that a girl, Leo, is also
waiting for the same person. Leo is not sociable, though.
The staff takes them to two rooms upstairs.
(A scene of Ben running in the woods, as if chased by someone).
They finally communicate. Elisabeth is
Leo's sister and they haven't seen each other in four years.
Elisabeth is also Ben's girlfriend.
Elisabeth sent both a telegram asking them to meet her at that hotel.
They are given an address where Lisa might be and take a taxi to that
address, a cemetery. But there is no trace of Lisa, and they don't have
the money to take a taxi back to the city. Leo shows Ben a newspaper
article that talks about a plane accident in which her father died, and
with him a huge sum disappeared.
While they are counting their cash at the train station, the phone rings:
it is Lisa, giving them another address. They have to hitchhike but they
finally reach Lisa. She is staying at a big country house that she just sold
(for very little, she says). Leo asks why she summoned them there.
Lisa is mysterious, she simply says she needs their help.
Then she mentions that maybe their father is not dead: someone has seen
him alive. Lisa wants to take revenge on David.
Then suddenly Lisa is kidnapped by two men who drive away in an ambulance.
(Another long sequence shows Ben running frantically through the forest.
Later he is being chased at the beach.)
Ben's sister Shirley suddenly appears, determined to get the missing money.
The plane went down for real
(two years earlier),
but David (Leo's father) was not on board:
he faked it because he was in financial trouble.
Shirtley got the safety deposit key to the safe, but needs the combination, and she suspects
that Leo knows it.
Shirley has asked the man's secretary to join them for a meeting with Leo.
Leo thinks that her father has kidnapped Lisa because he wants the money.
Leo claims she doesn't know the combination but
there is a postcard with a riddle that might lead to the combination.
Ben and Leo take off on a motorcycle for an abandoned house and try to make
sense of the riddle's "333" pattern.
Ben and Leo find food in the deserted villa, prepare a nice dinner and then
he tries to seduce her, but she is not interested.
(There is a woman chasing Ben at the beach.)
They just exchange stories of their lives, and eventually he tells Leo that
Shirley is his sister and that... Lisa is dead.
(There is a woman chasing Ben in the forest with a whole packs of dogs.)
Leo realizes that Ben knows more than he admitted and decides to call the
police. He doesn't let her make the phone call and doesn't let her leave
the house. They fight. He is clearly after the combination, i.e. after the
money. Then he suddenly breaks down and starts crying.
(The woman who is chasing him at the beach is climbing up a steep slope,
but keeps rolling down, and there are snakes at the bottom, crawling in
the sand. The woman now looks like Leo).
Ben repeats that Lisa is dead, but Leo doesn't believe him.
(Now there is an armored knight on a horse chasing Ben in the forest and
the woman is staring at them. The knight gets off the horse and they
fight a duel. Ben wins and escapes, and the woman watches him).
In the morning Leo can see a six-digit number written on a window.
Ben decides to go back to Shirley and Leo jumps on the motorcycle.
(The woman at the beach, dressed like Leo and looking like Leo,
is running through sand dunes, looking for him).
Ben dumps Leo and runs away on the motorcycle.
(At the beach the woman follows his footprints but now he has a gun and starts
shooting at her, and now she is the one running away).
Leo returns to town and meets with her father's secretary who has been
digging into official records. She found the last photograph of her father
David: he was with Shirley.
An anonymous telephone call reveals where Lisa is kept prisoner.
Leo frees Lisa: it was Shirley who organized the kidnapping.
A mysterious man was there. He had a different face but she recognized that
it was David, their father.
Now both girls both want revenge.
Leo tells Lisa that she has the number.
Meanwhile, Ben, looking for Shirley, finds David. For the first time we
see the mysterious father (who smokes cigarettes despite having asthma).
But he panics when Ben demands to know where Lisa is kept. Shirley appears
and tells Ben that this David is not the girls' father but another person
altogether, and that Lisa was not really kidnapped. Lisa, the only one knows
which bank his father used, has been scheming
all the time to get the combination so she can get hold of the money.
Shirley thinks that Leo has the combination, but Leo is not interested in money.
However, Leo might be interested in saving her sister if she were kidnapped,
and therefore the fake kidnapping was organized.
Shirley brought back to life David through this fake David, so that Leo
would have two reasons to cooperate: saving her sister and her father.
Meanwhile, Lisa has told Leo and the secretary where the bank is located.
The chaffeur calls Shirley and tells her the address.
They all head for a house outside town.
(Ben is still being chased by the woman in the forest and she is now shooting
arrows with a bow).
Lisa, Leo and the secretary wait for Shirley in the nearby golf course.
Shirley has the key (she was David's lover), Leo has the combination.
The secretary walks into the house, where Ben and the fake David are waiting,
while Shirley is walking through the golf
course towards the sisters.
Shirley chats with Lisa: they agree to meet at the airport before going to the
bank together. There's a man hiding behind a tree with a gun. He shoots and
kills Lisa. Inside the house the fake David is "seeing" everything that is going
on (he is a medium) and tells Ben. Ben tries to run out and help Lisa but
is knocked down by three men.
Leo, furious, has grabbed a gun and runs inside the house. She kills the
fake David, thinking that he is behind the whole affair. He begs in vain that
he is not her father. Shirley, instead, revives Ben and announces that they
are rich. He pushes her back disgusted.
Inside the house the secretary tells Leo, who is bending on the fake David's
cadaver, that she was David's lover at some point but, unlike Shirley, who
only cared for the money, she really cared for the family.
Now Lisa is dead and Leo is an assassin.
(At the beach Ben and the girl who looks like Leo stop fighting,
they sit on top of two dunes and stare at each other).
Le Port du Nord (1981)
Love on the Ground (1984)
La Bande des Quatre/ Gang of Four (1988)
La Belle Noiseuse/ The Beautiful Troublemaker (1991), four hours long,
about an artist and his model
Up Down Fragile (1995)
Secret Defense/ Top Secret (1998), in which a girl investigates
her sister's death,
Va Savoir (2001)
Histoire de Marie et Julien (2003)
Ne Touchez pas la Hache/ The Duchess of Langeais (2007),
based on Balzac's novel "Don't Touch the Axe" (1834)
36 Views from the Pic Saint-Loup (2009)
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