Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Movie a Day, Day 62: Around a Small Mountain

Another day, another film by an aging French auteur that I expected to like more than I did. There was enough to keep me interested in Around a Small Mountain, but it was a lightweight, emotionally detached sort of interest, which started floating away as the end credits rolled.

The pace is so slow it took a while to slow down enough to meet it, but once I did I was able to relax, since Rivette and his editor (Nicole Lubtchansky, whose daughter Irina did the cinematography) lead us through this ambling journey with a sure hand. And I enjoyed watching Jane Birkin as Kate, a melancholy woman making a temporary return to the family circus she left years before after a tragic accident. Birkin is one of those magnetic people you can’t help watching, even when she’s doing something as simple as sitting on a riser or dyeing cloth. Which helps, since we mostly just watch her doing that sort of thing, or listen as she engages in a series of brief and prickly exchanges with Vittorio (Sergio Castellitto). A traveling businessman who fell for Kate on first sight, Vittorio stops for a while to court her in a beautiful old French town where the sparsely attended little show has set up its tent.

Vittorio gets drawn into the old-school circus act and so do we, since Rivette keeps showing bits of what appears to be a very French circus, more existential than exhilarating. Read the rest on The House Next Door, Slant Magazine's blog.

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