Sunday, June 12, 2016

Je Tu Il Elle

Written, directed and starring Chantal Akerman, Je Tu Il Elle (I You He She) is the story of a woman who goes on a road trip where she endures love affairs during her journey. The film is a study of loneliness and longing for love where a woman goes into her own journey of self-discovery through unconventional means. Also starring Niels Arestrup and Claire Wauthion. Je Tu Il Elle is an intoxicating yet rapturous film from Chantal Akerman.

The film is a study of loneliness and a woman finding herself as it is told in a minimalist fashion. All of which told in three different sequences where this woman named Julie (Chantal Akerman) deals with loneliness as the first act is about Julie in her apartment writing a letter and such. The second act takes place on the road where she meets this truck driver (Niels Arestrup) and the third is where she meets a former lover (Claire Wauthion). All of which plays into this woman trying to find herself as it is told with very little dialogue as it largely features a lot of voiceover narration from Julie’s perspective in the first act with very little said in the second and third.

Akerman’s direction definitely plays a lot to the film’s minimalist presentation as it isn’t about any striking compositions but rather the simplicity of it where much of the scenes shot in the apartment appears in a static shot where the camera would remain still as well as show the apartment from one side to another without the need to move it. The simplicity of the presentation where Akerman goes for mostly medium and wide shots in the apartment sequence as well as in the third act are very entrancing while she goes for a close-up for the scenes with the truck driver in his truck during a monologue. Shot in grainy 16mm black-and-white film, Akerman would create something that feels real but also not dwell too much into style. Yet, she would create something that plays into what Julie wants as it also says a lot about Akerman’s view on sex and sexual identity. Overall, Akerman creates a provocative yet mesmerizing film about a lonely woman’s journey of self-discovery.

Cinematographer Benedicte Delesalle does brilliant work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from the usage of shadows and light for scenes set at night in the interior scenes to the grainy look for the scenes inside the truck. Editor Luc Freche does nice work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with very little cuts in favor of long-takes with the only usage of style is in the fade-outs to structure the story. The film’s sound by Samy Szlingerbaum and Alain Pierre is fantastic for not just how natural it is but also in the editing of Julie’s narration. The performances of Claire Wauthion and Niels Arestrup in their respective roles as Julie’s girlfriend and the truck driver who each provide a sense of charm that would fascinate Julie. Chantal Akerman is amazing as Julie as a young woman dealing with loneliness and her surroundings as she befriends this truck driver and later meet a girlfriend where she copes with the journey her life has taken.

As part of the 2010 Eclipse box set series of Chantal Akerman’s work in the 1970s from the Criterion Collection, the film is presented in a 1:33:1 full-frame aspect ratio with Dolby Digital mono as the set features an essay written by film essayist Michael Koresky entitled Je Tu Il Elle: Form Follows Dysfunction. The essay discusses many of the themes in the film as well as the ideas Akerman would later hone into the films she would make in the coming years. Especially in its portrayal of women as well as their journey to find themselves in a modern world. Even in the journey that Julie would take in the people she meets as it play into who she is and what she realizes about herself as it’s a very compelling essay.

Je Tu Il Elle is a phenomenal film from Chantal Akerman. It’s a film that explores a woman’s isolation as well as yearning to connect while trying to find herself. Even as it doesn’t display any kind of cinematic conventions nor refusing to delve into elements of style. In the end, Je Tu Il Elle is an incredible film from Chantal Akerman.

Chantal Akerman Films: La Chambre - Hotel Monterey - Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles - News from Home - Les Rendez-vous d'Anna - (American Stories, Food, Family and Philosophy) - (Night and Day (1991 film)) - (A Couch in New York) - (La Captive) - (Tomorrow We Move) - (Almayer’s Folly) - (No Home Movie)

© thevoid99 2016


Anonymous said...

You are uncovering so many hidden and unexpected movies lately!
I love that you said she had to "endure" love affairs - been there! ;)

thevoid99 said...

Well, I like to delve into films not many people have heard of as I'm glad I chose to get that box set of Akerman's work from the 70s as those Eclipse series are what people need. Criterion does a great service to us fans by giving us the chance to explore these gems.