Day 1: September 9, 1999

9:30 pm

1999 Madeline

Laurent Bouhnik
France, 1999
Cast: Véra Briole, Manuel Blanc, Anouk Aimee, Jean-Michel Fete

A couple of days ago, a friend asked if I was particularly hard on movies because I see a lot of them, and many of them "art films". I pleaded innocence, btit it got me wondering. And the question isn't "Am I a film snob," but rather, "What kind of film snob am I?" My reaction to this film should be somewhat telling.

It's a look at Madeline, a shy 35-year old. She works as a seamstress, making dresses for other women to feel beautiful in. And yet Madeline is surrounded by the most dire and sterile surroundings, completely bereft of beauty. In every single shot where we can see the outsde worlds, it's cold and stark and despairingly alien.

We follow her on the grim search for a mate through a dating service. We see an uneasy shuffling of feet, and hear her closest thoughts: "We say that we love someone even when we don't. What we really want is for them to love us." My God -- that's can't be true, can it? Oh oh.

There's a sparsity to the film that works well, and a striking use of colour to mirror the temperatures of Madeleine's moods. The colours change from scene to scene, much like your own moods can abruptly swich from being warm and bright to a chill blue with the right catalyst.

Anouk Aimee has a small role in the film. did you ever see Fellini's "8½"? She plays Marcello Mastroiani's wife Lisa. It was on TV the other night at about 1 am. Even though I had to be at work the next morning, I stayed up 'till 2:15 waiting for Anouk to make her entrance. I've seen the flim 5 or 6 times, and I'm always struck by how disarmingly beautiful she is. Especially with her glassess (why are there no comtemporary movie characters who wear glasses?) At some point in the fuzz of the night, fatigue got the better of me and I had to go to bed without seeing her. But I have it on video -- I'll watch it at some point just for her.

"1999 Madeleine" has more than a touch of nihlism in it, but it's not without a sense of hope that she will begin living and will be more than some sallow-eyed hust. There's a great scene with her riding a roller coaster. She's alone, and the camera is on her the whole time. She doesn't obviously enjoy it; instead her expression says to me: This is something I'm supposed to like, isn't it? And if there was one image to take away from the film, this is it.

Mme Renée from "Chacun Cherche Son Chat" (English title: "When The Cat's Away") has an uncredited cameo. So does everyone else because there were no credits at all.

11:40 pm

Interlude: Rachel Griffiths

Rachel Griffiths in ME MYSELF I

This morning I was in a Waterloo café, reading the Globe and Mail and drinking coffee. In the top left corner of the front page was a small colour photograph of Rachel Griffiths from the film "Me Myself I," playing later this week at the Festival. Since I'm currently nursing an enormous fixation on her (saw her in "My Son The Fanatic" the other night), this was just fine. She's lovely.

Back to tonight. I passed a newspaper box on the way from the theatre. I thought that seeing her picture would pick me up a bit. But when I looked, the photo was of Liv Tyler. I suppose Waterloo gets a different edition, but why change that one picture? It still pointed to the same story. For a moment, I ws Winston Smith, wishing he had held on to that scrap of paper that would prove his memories were true despite the common wisdom. We are at war with Eastasia, aren't we?

Aren't we?

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