Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wild Grass

Based on the works of Christian Gailly, Les Herbes Folles (Wild Grass) is the story of a dentist who loses her wallet that is later found by a married man who becomes fascinated by her picture as he tries to be in her life. Directed by Alain Resnais with an adapted script by Alex Reval and Laurent Herbiet, the film is a look about the way people get into other people’s lives through accidental means and its impact. Starring Sabine Azema, Andre Dussollier, Anne Consigny, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric, and narration by Edouard Baer. Les Herbes Folles is a quirky yet entrancing film from Alain Resnais.

After having her purse stolen by a thief, Marguerite Muir (Sabine Azema) is comprehend what happens as her wallet is later found in a mall parking lot by a man named Georges Palet (Andre Dussollier). Palet ponders what to do after looking into the contents of the wallet as he eventually decides to turn the wallet into the police as Bernard de Bordeaux (Mathieu Amalric) takes the wallet to return to Marguerite. Georges however, is wondering about what to do as he attempts to make contact with Marguerite as he’s trying to do usual activities for his wife Suzanne (Anne Consigny). Still, he ponders about Marguerite as his attempts to contact her leaves him disturbed where he finally reaches her through letters as things get weird.

Due to Georges’ behavior and the way he reacts though they haven’t met, Marguerite contacts Bernard for help as he and his partner Lucien (Michel Vuillermoz) talk to Georges to stop contact Marguerite. Georges does so though Marguerite remains intrigued by Georges as she wants to know more about him much to the chagrin of her dental partner Josepha (Emmanuelle Devos). Yet, Marguerite manages to contact Suzanne as she wants to meet Georges though things remain weird. Finally, Marguerite and Georges eventually meet though the meeting proves to be awkward. Yet, Marguerite wants to know more by making Georges an offer he couldn’t refuse.

The film is about the way fates play into the world as this eccentric yet lively woman, who is a dentist and likes to fly planes, has her purse stolen only for her wallet to be found by another man. Yet, this troubled yet quiet man would become interested in this woman as it would eventually cause trouble as his wife is confused by this interest while the woman’s friend is also baffled by it later on in the film. Yet, these two people have a shared interest in aviation though the letters they correspond through early in the film. Still, Georges’ own behavior and later, Marguerite’s own interest would lead to some consequences as the script works in terms of studying these two characters. Notably the way the try to contact each other and the impact it would have on the people around them.

Alain Resnais’ direction is entrancing for the way he presents the film with such style that makes it very engaging. With many scenes shot from a crane to emphasize everything that is from above, Resnais uses the style to ponder what Marguerite and Georges are thinking. There’s scenes where the two are driving in different scenes while their respective faces pop up in the frame to see what they’re going to do if they contact one another. The narrative jumps a bit to see how Marguerite learns about Georges when she meets Bernard as that scene is presented in a flashback. The film is filled with a lot of voice-over narration for the main characters to think about their own situations while the narration of Edouard Baer talks about the characters and their own back story. The film ends in a strange note while Resnais adds a bit of style to the film. There’s parts where the film lags a bit though it’s an overall wonderful film by Alain Resnais.

Cinematographer Eric Gautier does a brilliant job with the film‘s colorful yet lush cinematography to complement the naturalistic look of the scenes involving grass and nature to a more stylized yet soft look for some nighttime scenes and the opening purse theft sequence. Editor Herve de Luze does a very good job with the film’s stylized editing as a lot of it is straightforward while the transitional fade-outs help the film move well despite a few pacing issues.

Production designer Jacques Saulnier does an excellent job with the set pieces created such as Georges‘ home as well as the home of Marguerite while her dentist office features paintings of the Beatles. Costume designer Jackie Budin does a superb job with the costumes from the darker clothes that Georges wear to the more colorful look of Marguerite to display their personalities. Sound editor Gerard Hardy and mixer Jean-Marie Blondel do an incredible job with the sound work to emphasize the locations and places the characters go into. The film’s score by Mark Snow is wonderful for its plaintive piano pieces that ranges from light-hearted to somber as well as some dark, brooding electronic pieces.

The casting for the film is amazing for the ensemble that is created as it includes appearances from Sara Forestier and Vladimir Consigny as the young-adult children of Georges and Suzanne, Nicolas Duvauchelle as the son-in-law, Annie Cordy as a neighbor of Marguerite, Michel Vuillermoz as Bernard’s police partner, and Roger Pierre as an elderly patient of Marguerite. Mathieu Amalric is very good as Bernard, a police officer who tries to smooth things out and make sure no one gets into trouble. Emmanuelle Devos is excellent as Josepha, Marguerite’s friend/business partner who tries to deal with Marguerite’s sudden interest in Georges. Anne Consigny is wonderful as Georges’ wife Suzanne who tries to figure out Georges’ interest while she would also make contact with Marguerite.

Finally there’s Sabine Azema and Andre Dussollier in fantastic performances in their respective roles of Marguerite and Georges. Azema brings a wonderfully lively yet laid-back performance to a woman who likes to fly and do her duties only to become more intrigued by the man who found her wallet. Dussollier adds a complexity to a man who is very troubled as well as kind as someone wanting to know this woman only to back off due to his own troubled behavior. Azema and Dussollier, two regulars of Resnais, have an amazing chemistry to the way the react each other that involves some light humor to their performances.

Les Herbes Folles is an excellent film from Alain Resnais that features a stellar ensemble cast led by Sabine Azema and Andre Dussollier. While it’s a more low-key film from Resnais, it’s a film that is fascinating for the way he plays with the idea of fate. It’s a film also proves that Resnais, a key figure of the French New Wave, still has some things to say though it’s a film that isn’t perfect due to a few pacing issues. Still, Les Herbes Folles is a terrific yet majestic film from Alain Resnais.

Alain Resnais Films: Night and Fog - Hiroshima Mon Amour - Last Year at Marienbad - (Muriel) - (The War is Over) - (Je T’aime, je t’aime) - (Stavisky) - (Providence) - Mon oncle D'Amerique - (Life is a Bed of Roses) - (Love Unto Death) - (Melo) - (I Want to Go Home) - (Gershwin) - (Smoking/No Smoking) - (Same Old Song) - (Not on the Lips) - (Private Fears in Public Places) - (You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet) - (Life of Riley)

© thevoid99 2011

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