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HISTOIRE DE MARIE ET JULIEN
aka THE STORY OF MARIE AND JULIEN
UK: Artificial Eye Film Company
Cast: Emmanuelle Beart, Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Anne Brochet, Bettina Kee, Olivier Cruveiller, Mathias Jung, Nicole Garcia
Director: Jacques Rivette
Language: French (English subtitles)
UK: 150 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains moderate sex
UK Release Date: 8 October 2004
Jacques Rivette's latest film HISTOIRE DE MARIE ET JULIEN is a revival of his four-part project SCeNES DE LA VIE PARALLeLE (1976). Only DUELLE and NORO¤T were completed. HISTOIRE DE MARIE ET JULIEN began shooting but was cancelled after two days. However, Rivette never completely let go of the story.
Julien (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), about 40 years old, is a clockmaker with destructive impulses who decides to blackmail Madame X (Anne Brochet), a rich, attractive woman who traffics in stolen antiques. What he doesn't know is that she has an even more dangerous secret that leads him to Marie (Emmanuelle Beart) with whom he had fallen in love a year earlier and who has made a mysterious reappearance. She is an enigmatic girl, and despite their increasingly intensifying love, Marie seems incapable of physical feeling. Julien, who has rediscovered his love for life, is ready to crack the mystery and to help Marie to free herself. Together they go to a place ruled by love without limits.
Slow, elegant and minutely planned, HISTOIRE DE MARIE ET JULIEN is a tender love story but also one of Rivette's darker films. Nothing seems to connect to the contemporary world and the audience is soon hypnotised by the strange events taking place in Julien's house with its many unreliable clocks, hidden letters, mirrors and dark corridors. These elements have become Rivette's trademarks, along with his literary and cinematographic tributes to Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James and Jean Cocteau. Using these elements, Rivette finally penetrates to the essence of the horror genre: an all devastating fear for what was not done, for what didn't happen - and thus a fear of dying.
The film is borne - as always - by beautiful camerawork by Lubtchansky and by protagonists who play an unusually mature and complete romance. Rivette had worked with Emmanuelle Beart and Jerzy Radziwilowicz before and was very eager to work with them again: the project only took a real shape when they had agreed to collaborate. Again (as in LA BELLE NOISEUSE), Beart's body becomes an object of singular obsession. When looking for Marie's soul, Julien is captivated by it and cannot rest until he finally gets through to her.
"Twenty-seven years ago, there were very few so-called fantastic films. That was not considered 'mainstream' at all. Today, on the contrary, we are drowning in fantastic films... Maybe, 27 years ago, I felt like putting the accent on the fantastic side of our story. Today, what interests me and touches me the most is the love story between this woman and this man who, at the start, are not at all prepared for it. Love will take them by surprise. She is at first completely cynical. And he's busy with his existential problems of a man who has failed in everything, his love life, his professional ambitions. He revels in his decline. And that will fall on them. And that's where the fantastic, with its steely logic, has to compel the two characters to literally come out of themselves and force them to confront themselves with what overwhelms them in all senses, to the sublime. If they aren't sublime, they are nothing." - Jacques Rivette
Jacques Rivette made his feature debut with PARIS NOUS APPARTIENT (1960), and has continued through a long career to be on of France's most audacious directors.