Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Film Capsule: Alain Resnais's Mélo (1986)

Mélo (1986)
Directed by Alain Resnais

The late Left Bank filmmaker’s first adaptation of a stage play and initial foray into arch theatricality, this devastating infidelity (melo)drama would effectively collapse the divide between authenticity and artificiality, enabling an aesthetic model which would nonetheless expand narrative possibilities. Set in Paris ca. 1920 and starring Sabine Azéma as a woman caught between the affection of two men, her husband Pierre Arditi and his best friend André Dussollier, the film stacks familiar elements of lust, deceit, and confusion at odd angles within a carefully drawn and demarcated dramaturgy which literally unfolds and recedes in real time. At once austere and involving, the film’s handcrafted alternate reality indulges artifice in an effort to condition empathy—and does so with both flair and nuance, allowing Resnais ample opportunity to reengage its properties, which he would capitalize on all the way through to his final film, this year’s Life of Riley. (Jun 11 at MoMA, part of its MK2 series) [The L]

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