Saturday, September 26, 2009

Love, Actually?

Lovers on the Bridge/Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991) - Carax
Experienced it for the first time on the big screen, 9.25.09

Ever since I saw Lovers on the Bridge in the early 90s on a bootlegged VHS tape, it has become my favorite film of all time; vibrant images, young Juliette Binoche, manic uglyman Denis Lavant, amour fou, naïveté... what more can I say?

This unlikely love story btwn a young homeless man, Alex(Lavant) and a heartbroken painter with serious eye problem, Michele(Binoche) gets to me every time I watch it. For me, Carax was the only one who successfully articulated the first love with all the trimmings- its selfish nature, its unimaginable happiness/pain, on the screen. I haven't seen anything like that before or since.

Lovers is ridiculous in its scope- the most expensive French film made at the time because they couldn't get the permit to shoot on the Pont-Neuf bridge(the oldest in Paris), they had to build a replica of the bridge nearby. But I'll save you from all the well-publicized details here as it is an old news. The night of the Centennial celebration in Paris with fireworks and water skiing serves as a backdrop for Michele and Alex to get drunk and dance around like maniacs - the scene is truly a visual feat. I don't know how Carax managed to pull all of that off. Logistical nightmare it was I'm sure.

I remember an interview with Binoche where she broke down and cried when asked about the film and Carax. She and Carax were romantically involved during the filming(They did two films together). Hey, if anyone could make Binoche cry, he/she earns my respect.

Do I really care about Lovers ending in an upbeat, overly optimistic mood? Not really. But whenever I defend cinema as an artistic medium(I generally don't) against literature or music, I usually mention Lovers on the Bridge. The film is really one of a kind- the energy, the physicality of it will never be duplicated in cinema or in any other form. Watching Lovers on the Bridge on the big screen was a blissful experience, to say the least.

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