Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Le Pont du Nord

The very slight charms of this picaresque, quite extended two-character stroll through Paris may well elude all but the most committed Jacques Rivette devotees.

March 21, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1373748-Le_Pont_Nord_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The city of Paris is the real star of Jacques Rivette’s 1981 Le Pont du Nord, just now getting a New York commercial release. Of course, this queen of all burgs has featured prominently in countless other films, but this is an absolute flaneur’s delight, and in no other has she been featured so front and center, in all her bridge-abundant, sculpted elegance and fascinating, multi-epoch architectural mash-up.

The fact that the actual plot of the film is a bit of shaggy-dog total nonsense with a very improvised feel to it only makes the enduring visual reality of Paris all the more vital here, as something the perhaps confused and exasperated viewer can at least cling to and savor. The mother-daughter actress team of Bulle Ogier and young Pascale (who tragically died three years after this film, at the age of 25) helped to write the script, which revolves around the two as unlikely, sudden friends somehow caught up in a mysterious web of crime as they get to know each other while strolling through the town.

Although blood-related, the two are a total contrast, with Bulle (playing Marie) being petite, cherubic and blonde while Pascale (as Baptiste) is tall, dark and lean with the enormous-eyed, melancholy and angular beauty of a young Anouk Aimee. Behaviorally, they are as night and day as well, with the earthbound Marie seriously bent on getting to the bottom of all the intrigue involving her shady, enigmatic hood of a boyfriend, Julien (the fey Pierre Clémenti, strangely cast), while airy-fairy Baptiste is a dippy and extroverted free spirit, with her incessant martial-arts moves and eccentric dancing along to the headphones plastered to her ears.

Hard-core, semiotic-crazed Rivette fans claim to see all manner of meaning in the auteur’s trademark usage of symbols and signs which litter the exposition, but for anyone else, this effort may well prove a very twee trial to endure. For all the many off-the-cuff aphorisms the characters spout, you really never get to know them (probably because, as Gertrude Stein, once famously stated, “There is no there there”) and Baptiste, in particular, is so willfully peculiar that you may well feel like shaking her out of all that supposed devastatingly charming spontaneity. Oh well, there is always Paree to savor, with a felicitous use of dashing Astor Piazzolla music, and for someone like me who dearly misses the place ever since the euro went stratospheric in comparison to our dollar, the film makes for something of a droll, if slightly dull, little vacation.


Film Review: Le Pont du Nord

The very slight charms of this picaresque, quite extended two-character stroll through Paris may well elude all but the most committed Jacques Rivette devotees.

March 21, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1373748-Le_Pont_Nord_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The city of Paris is the real star of Jacques Rivette’s 1981 Le Pont du Nord, just now getting a New York commercial release. Of course, this queen of all burgs has featured prominently in countless other films, but this is an absolute flaneur’s delight, and in no other has she been featured so front and center, in all her bridge-abundant, sculpted elegance and fascinating, multi-epoch architectural mash-up.

The fact that the actual plot of the film is a bit of shaggy-dog total nonsense with a very improvised feel to it only makes the enduring visual reality of Paris all the more vital here, as something the perhaps confused and exasperated viewer can at least cling to and savor. The mother-daughter actress team of Bulle Ogier and young Pascale (who tragically died three years after this film, at the age of 25) helped to write the script, which revolves around the two as unlikely, sudden friends somehow caught up in a mysterious web of crime as they get to know each other while strolling through the town.

Although blood-related, the two are a total contrast, with Bulle (playing Marie) being petite, cherubic and blonde while Pascale (as Baptiste) is tall, dark and lean with the enormous-eyed, melancholy and angular beauty of a young Anouk Aimee. Behaviorally, they are as night and day as well, with the earthbound Marie seriously bent on getting to the bottom of all the intrigue involving her shady, enigmatic hood of a boyfriend, Julien (the fey Pierre Clémenti, strangely cast), while airy-fairy Baptiste is a dippy and extroverted free spirit, with her incessant martial-arts moves and eccentric dancing along to the headphones plastered to her ears.

Hard-core, semiotic-crazed Rivette fans claim to see all manner of meaning in the auteur’s trademark usage of symbols and signs which litter the exposition, but for anyone else, this effort may well prove a very twee trial to endure. For all the many off-the-cuff aphorisms the characters spout, you really never get to know them (probably because, as Gertrude Stein, once famously stated, “There is no there there”) and Baptiste, in particular, is so willfully peculiar that you may well feel like shaking her out of all that supposed devastatingly charming spontaneity. Oh well, there is always Paree to savor, with a felicitous use of dashing Astor Piazzolla music, and for someone like me who dearly misses the place ever since the euro went stratospheric in comparison to our dollar, the film makes for something of a droll, if slightly dull, little vacation.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

For No Good Reason
Film Review: For No Good Reason

A feast for the eyes and the mind, the brilliantly original work of the great Ralph Steadman finally gets its due. More »

Last Passenger
Film Review: Last Passenger

This taut and engaging thriller nicely exploits a common fear—that by simply going about our ordinary lives, any of us could wind up in exactly the wrong place at exactly the wrong time. More »

Young & Beautiful
Film Review: Young & Beautiful

Like a cinematic Scheherezade, François Ozon continues to hypnotize us with his masterful storytelling in this deliciously voyeuristic phase of his career, this time showcasing a true overnight star, the exquisite Marine Vacth.
 More »

Blue Ruin
Film Review: Blue Ruin

An effective regional crime drama in the key of Jeff Nichols, but lacking his emotional and thematic complexity. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here