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screening # 45
Continuing the Chantal Akerman retrospective
The last on 35mm
A study in desire and obsession...
La Captive (2000)
Thursday 28th May 2015, 7.00pm
A woman’s high heels tap across the pavement of Place Vendôme, until they disappear elegantly into a car. A young man (Stanislas Mehrar) has been following, his eyes fixed on those heels.
In Proust’s long novel about obsessive love, À la recherche du temps perdu, the young woman was Albertine, and the man Marcel. For La captive, Chantal Akerman, adapting La Prisonnière, the fifth volume in the novel, names the woman Ariane (Sylvie Testud), the man Simon.
Simon is all but house bound, Ariane happily free. Yet Simon forces himself outside to follow Ariane, suspecting she has a girl friend. His questions are relentless. Where has she been? Who with?
Proust conducted one kind of enquiry into subjective agony, a decidedly male one, but Akerman here builds a radical subjectivity for Ariane, who must negotiate surveillance and microscopic scrutiny, or at least as gamely as she can given her situation as object. What springs to mind is Laura Mulvey’s famous formulation: “woman as image, man as the bearer of the look” (in her essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, 1975).
In one scene of sublime cinematic invention, on a par with the single shot of one women in profile and another in full face, but overlapped, in Bergman’s Persona, Akerman here has her male protagonist on one side of a blurred glass partition in his bathroom, first in dialogue with the woman then as she appears to the camera in outline, an unstable figure, that he seeks to mimic, leaning first one way and then the other, in a vain attempt perhaps to merge with the outline, the substance of her body. Simon would love to inhabit or, better, posses Ariane’s body. His agony is boundless. Her predicament made known.
Cast: Stanislas Merhar, Sylvie Testud, Olivia Bonamy, Aurore Clément, Liliane Rovere, Françoise Bertin.
Dir. Chantal Akerman, 2000, 25mm, 107 mins
This retrospective is possible due to the financial support of the British Film Institute, Wallonie-Bruxelles International and Film Hub London (managed by Film London). Many thanks to those orgnisations.
A Nos Amours is a collective founded by film-makers Joanna Hogg and Adam Roberts dedicated to programming over-looked, under-exposed or especially potent cinema. A Nos Amours is a moveable feast that goes wherever and whenever opportunities arise. A Nos Amours invites film-makers and others to advocate and present films that they admire or would like to see on a big screen. A Nos Amours believes in the value of watching film as a shared experience.
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