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

Happy Christmas
Film Review: Happy Christmas

Joe Swanberg's latest feature is a collection of strong individual scenes and performances that never quite finds its statement of purpose. More »

Very Good Girls
Film Review: Very Good Girls

More of a meandering, misguided path than a road to hell, Naomi Foner’s directing debut, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as 18-year-old BFFs, is similarly filled with good intentions. More »

The Kill Team
Film Review: The Kill Team

Marine Adam Winfield goes on trial in a case in which U.S. soldiers murdered innocent Afghanis. Strong subject marred by poor narrative choices. More »

The Divine Move
Film Review: The Divine Move

Excessive violence and off-the-wall plotting undermine an intriguing game-based premise. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Hercules
Film Review: Hercules

Legendary strongman is caught in the middle of a brutal civil war in a fast-paced vehicle for Dwayne Johnson. 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