Wednesday, January 13, 2016

100 Words on... The Mother and the Whore

Unlike other directors of the French New Wave, Jean Eustache didn’t glamorize his preening leading man, even though he said this film was autobiographical. (Then again, he did commit suicide a few years later). Instead, he keeps the camera running as self-styled ladies’ man Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Léaud) chatters on, trading a near-endless stream of pseudo-intellectual observations with his even more pompous friend or monologuing at the unaccountably indulgent, occasionally bemused women in his life. The film’s implicit critique of male privilege and the hipster/poseur world Alexandre inhabits becomes explicit as the focus shifts to Alexandre’s latest conquest, Veronika (Françoise Lebrun), a watchful truth-teller who is as self-aware as Alexandre is self-deluding. Veronika provides both a sad-eyed moral center and a clear-eyed critique of what she calls Alexandre’s “shitty relationships with women” to this sometimes funny, sometimes wearying, ultimately absorbing and unsettling 220-minute slice of life.  Written for Brooklyn Magazine