Saturday, March 16, 2019

Artist's Hell Realized

Vargtimmen/Hour of the Wolf (1968) - Bergman
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Vargtimmen tells a story of an artist struggling with isolation, paranoia and madness. The title refers to the night hours when most people die and also when most babies are born. In the black card title sequence, we hear the film crew getting the shot ready. The first scene is Alma (Liv Ullman), the pregnant wife of a recluse painter Johan (Max von Sydow), staring directly into the camera, addressing that her husband went missing. The film being the-post Persona era Bergman, it's filled to the brim with surrealist images and dream logic. Visuals are often frightening - as Johan struggles to ward off a feral child on the beach which is filmed in extreme high contrast and ends up killing the kid and dumping his body in the water. And a grotesque dinner party that reveals Johan's scandalous past and devolves into a string of ghastly sights involving an old woman pulling off her face and eyeballs, cross-dressing and necrophilia even.

It's an odd film that doesn't really give any clear statement or answers directly that Bergman wrestles with usually. It seems more personal, dealing with personal demons therefore more obscure in its presentation. It's still a very interesting experiment.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Interview: Jia Zhangke on Gangster Genre and Ash is Purest White

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With his sprawling gangster epic melodrama Ash is Purest White opening this Thursday in New York, Jia Zhangke, the master chronicler of changing China, was in town and I was lucky enough to snag an interview. Spanning 17 years, Ash is a culmination of all of Jia's work, once again, starring his wife/muse, the great Zhao Tao in a performance that gathers more power and poignancy as the film goes along. The film ended up near the top of my favorite list for 2018 and everyone needs to see this beautiful film. So without further a do:

It seems you are going back to the long form storytelling with ASH IS PUREST WHITE, harkening back to your old films like PLATFORM or UNKNOWN PLEASURES rather than episodic storytelling of your past two films, A TOUCH OF SIN and MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART.

So first, thinking about doing a film about underworld (Jianghu), not only as a subject but as a genre. What attracted me about those jianghu films, is about the philosophy and their codes of conduct into personal relationship, cultivation of sense of loyalty. These are the values that I wanted to examine but did’t want to somehow pinpoint one particular era or one particular time pertaining my youth or contemporary time. What I wanted to examine was how these values and philosophy of the underworld evolved and changed and eroded in these long stretch of time so I can explore the connections between these- how it had changed and shifted to pursue wealth and power in the mainstream society. That’s the reason why I decided to not only narrating this particular underworld genre and motif but also long time span of 17 years in order for me to do so.

And another point of departure is I remember that when I was young and growing up in Shanxi Province, there was a big brother character, like a Brother Bin (Liao Fan of Black Coal Thin Ice) in the film in my own neighborhood. I remember that he was strikingly handsome and very masculine and well versed in cultivating that kind of personal bond and resolving conflict. He made a huge impression on me growing up. Later when I went back home from College I saw him middle aged, squatting by the street eating a bowl of noodles. All his underlings and brothers were gone. So I think that not only examining this particular underworld genre portrayal of how they evolved and how the values have been eroded, I also wanted to see how time change and change an individual such as this particular case the head of the gang and how this person changed internally but also externally in terms of appearance. How this face aged through time. Those are the two elements I wanted to examine.

It’s interesting you say the because the big part of the film belong to Zhao Tao’s character. In some strange magic she hasn’t changed not only physically but she had this inner strength and it’s her who goes to jail for and rescues Brother Bin at the end. She was the only one who was loyal to him all throughout those years. How did you come up with that character?

I wanted to make a comparison gender-wise in jianghu and also society in general. China is a very male oriented society and that kind of principles we used to have have changed. Male population seems to be more inclined to pursue those wealth and power and lose themselves in it. And on the other hand, the female population ironically are the ones holding on to those traditional values and cultures and those principles they didn’t lose. I wanted to create those contrast in current society. I’m not saying that the past was better. I‘m just showing what is changed in society.

The film is French co-production. How was working with the French crew?

In terms of collaboration with my french partner MK2, the distribution company which I worked with past 3 films. So iI do think that gave me more options in terms of finding the talents and the people I can work with from the French side. For this particular film, the cinematographer was Eric Gautier collaborating with me for the first time. Sound mixers and also the hair and makeup were all french artists. In the past I tend to have a very close-knit crew from China. It was not so much about the funding and investment on the film that was important. It was more to do with creative team that I can pull from French side. I enjoyed a lot more that collaboration.

Was it a challenge to create that period in terms of production design?

The challenge was how to recreate this period that was seen in 2001. Because the people back in the day the way they look and their faces were completely different from how people look now. When doing the casting process I needed to make sure that I find the faces that had a bit of wear and tear, that show the ravages of time and hard work. They tended to have darker complexion and so on. Today’s young people, even if they are from the same province, same county, same hometown, they have a lighter skin tone with smoother surface - hamburger face that I constantly joke about- well-fed, well- nurtured and well protected in terms of sunblock and all that. So how I’m going to choose the right faces - actors and actresses and extras. So when I was actually positioning my main characters with all the makeup and movie magic, I was very concerned about how they would look believable so people will say yes these are indeed from 2001. So restaging of it was pretty challenging.

What’s interesting to me is that you are retracing your steps of your previous films be it Shanxi Province or Three Gorges Dam. How much have they changed since then?

So in terms of revisiting those places I previously shot my films in, instead of change of scenery that I witnessed that astonished me, it was how much it hasn’t changed for 17 years. For example, a lot of public spaces that were there are still standing, shockingly, compared with most of the 1st tier and 2nd tier mega cities- tend to demolish everything and restart completely. So the skyline would be completely different. Places like Datong and Three Gorges Dam, 17 years ago and when I made Still Life, many of the buildings and public spaces are still there and still very much the same. So many feels that as a country, China is a fast changing society and of progress. At the same time, it’s not balanced in urban city and in rural areas. So a lot of people are left behind and they never had a chance to catch up with mainstream progress that’s been so visible to the world.

Qiao (Zhao Tao’s character) in the first part of the film, when she bid farewell to her father at the train station and also the worker’s dormitory in the background - those were already there when I made unknown Pleasures in 2001, so I was so shocked. You see it a little weathered and can see the traces of time, but they are still there!

The question I had about Qiao is that she had a chance to leave everything behind and go west (Xinjiang) with this venture capitalist that she met on the train. But she doesn’t. I wonder about the choices that she made.

I think after breakup with her long time lover, she decides that it’s time to make a change, to break away from that past relations and trying to find the new one. It just happens to be this chance encounter with that person. It was almost like a very very short fling. But after that experience that she realizes that to go with him, to Xinjiang in this case, she would be removing herself completely from the underworld that she still very much see herself a member of. So she at the end makes the final decision. At the end of the film she says “I am jianghu and you are not.” She is actually telling this to Bin. It’s that spirit of jianghu she is abiding by, not any men.

You told me in 2014 that you might be doing a period piece about Chinese journeyman traveling West first, Europe and then South America. Is it still happening? If not, what’s next for you?

It’s not anywhere in preparation stage. It’s still one of the films I very much want to make. The next film we are preparing for is a period piece set in the late Qing dynasty. It’s going to be Wuxia genre film.

I am very much looking forward to that!


My review of Ash is Purest White

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Volcanic Desire to Live

Stromboli (1950) - Rossellini
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Karin (Ingrid Bergman), a war refugee of Lithuanian descent in an internment camp in Italy flirts with a young Italian soldier to get out of the camp. They get married and move to the soldier's hometown Stromboli, an isolated volcanic island where its very religious, very conservative unwelcoming inhabitants greet her. Worldly and ambitious Karin finds the first day that there is absolutely nothing in Stromboli that she likes. Its barren landscape and rudimentary stone houses and old men hanging around her home profoundly depress her. Her young husband turns out to be nothing but a brute too, slapping her around and locking her in the house. She plans to escape, even if it means seducing half the village and climb across the volcanic mountain to get to the other side of the island.

It's interesting to see Rossellini's neorealist approach with non-actors and almost documentary-like sequences clash with sheer star power of Bergman is an interesting mix. But I don't mind. Bergman is magnetic.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Interview: Mia Hansen-Løve on Her India Set, Daring New Film Maya

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Mia Hansen-Løve is one of my very favorite directors working today. Her infinitely wise films about time passing, beautiful characterization of people who inhabits her films and her willingness to always expand her cinematic universe at whatever the cost, leave me in awe. Her new film Maya isn't an exception to this rule. Structurally daring, logistically ambitious but always heartfelt, the filmmaker is reaching a new height. I got a chance to talk to her while she was in town for Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. Stuck in traffic and suffering from a cold, I was about ten minutes late for our appointment but she was so accomodating and kind to me. I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

So here is how our conversation went:

Throughout your filmography you try to do something different and something bigger, grander in scale each time. I like that about you.

Oh thanks for saying that. Not many people notices that.

Gabriel, one of the main characters in MAYA, played by Roman Kolinka, is a war journalist. Is he based on anybody?

Not really. I got some of… my inspiration from a former hostage but it stops when the trip to India starts. The only thing you could say is his story was inspired by true events and it has to do with captivity but film doesn’t deal so much with that. I mean it’s just the starting point of the film. But this trip to India to me is mostly an inner journey. And the film is really about invisible transformation... of not anyone in particular, maybe only pertains to me, in a more indirect way. But the character is not certainly inspired by someone in particular.

Speaking of something that is more personal and has more direct relationship with you, does India and especially Goa, have special connection to you?

It does. I’ve been traveling to India for the last ten years or so. I’ve been there almost every year. I’ve written one of my films there. But I’ve been attracted to india since I was in my 20s. Of course it had to do with me wanting to move on and do something different and so on. But I actually needed it, both as a person and as and artist. And at some point it made sense to me to try to confront my sensibility to India. It wasn’t like I wanted to make a film about or taking place in India then make up the story. This story for the film came to my mind first.

Right.

The story and characters came first and I thought it would make sense at this point, especially after Things to Come which was a such a ‘home movie’ in a way. (laughs) In another way, but you know what I mean. I wanted to go to a very different place and take that risk. I think risk somehow always excites me too. It was a way to get close to India and to go further in my relationship to India and not stay on the surface of it. Because you go there as a tourist, even if you go many times, it’s hard to go beyond the surface, unless you live there and….

But I thought to myself what’s the best way to know india better? Maybe to shoot a film there. That’s a great way to experience the place - to know places and people and experience things that I would never get to do otherwise. It’s challenging but also very exciting. I think it’s a very good way to go deeper into different culture and a country.

Did it feel like that when you were shooting part of EDEN, in New York?

I think all of my films somehow have been ways to get deeper into certain world. There are never documentary because I am really into fiction but somehow there was always this dimension in my films using fiction and making films as a way to further my experience and my knowledge. I think that’s what films should do anyway.

Right. Definitely. I have to tell you that EDEN is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s a masterpiece and I really really love that film.

Oh thank you. I will tell my brother (Sven, whose DJ career was the basis for Eden) will be happy to hear that.

How was shooting in India?

I think it was both amazing, extremely how do you say…joyful and also very tough. I mean it was actually amazing to be so far away to work with Indian people, to work with an Indian actress - just to lose myself and Immerse into such a different world. I got so much from it and I feel I am so much stronger since I made that film.

Gotcha.

For me there is before and after Maya. So the experience will stay forever with me. But on the other hand it was tough. When I started shooting I was already exhausted. both physically and mentally. I had tons of health issues at that time.

Oh sorry to hear that.


Nothing really bad but you know when you have that and when you are about to shoot a movie in India, it's not the best moment to have these kind of issues. Mentally also because the film was so difficult to finance. I felt huge responsibility toward my producers. I felt I had to not to do any overtime…, I'm always pushing for time. I felt I had great weight on my shoulders because all the risk they had taken to make that film. Maybe that was the most difficult thing on that shoot - this guilty feeling on some level. (laughs) But months after shooting, looking back what stays the strongest is a what unique experience it was.

It’s a unique movie too in a lot of aspects.

Oh thank you.

How did you find this beautiful actress, Aarshi Banerjee, who played Maya?

It took me some time to find Aarshi. We spent months looking for girls mostly in Mumbai but also around Mumbai, Maharashtra, but also in Goa and even in London, because we had some connections there, so we were looking though the Indian community- I was looking for a girl who speaks English. So it was casing but also in Facebook and social media. In many videos I got, I thought the girls were too much like actresses and too elegant. And I received this video of Aarshi where she filmed herself in a living room with a dog and she was so raw… I mean on the one hand she is extremely beautiful, in my head the character had to be, but on top of that she was so direct and so authentic. She moved me a lot with her maturity and depth and authority but at the same time she is also very much rooted…how do you say in…

Grounded.


Grounded, you know? she is really into her Indian reality. She’s not like ideal or romantic figure. she’s a real girl. And because my character Gabriel is a such a ghost when he arrives in India, I felt it was important that she shouldn’t be a ghost. She would have to be very real. I love the fact that she has a very timeless beauty but she also has a very contemporary quality to her. I think I used that a lot in her character.

That makes a lot of sense because I was wondering about the title because it could well have been Gabriel. Because the film starts with him and it’s his journey. But talking to you it makes sense that it’s called MAYA.

I think it is a poetic choice. The film doesn’t have to… the film is not a summery or… The title of the film is Maya and it says something. She brings something essential to the film and yes the main character is definitely Gabriel and you could say she just passes through the film, but she brings him back to life somehow. She bring him grace in his life. I thought it was beautiful to call the film Maya - the beauty and the fragility and youth that she symbolizes. She is the direction. She is the starting point. He might be the main character but she’s what the film looks at.

Is that also about that special person when we think back our lives there was this one person who changed the course of my existence somehow, that Gabriel can be that person for Maya by meeting her?

Totally. Maybe that was the starting point of the film. Also when I look back my own life I think of some persons I have met when I was a teenager and maybe they made me suffer at some point but they meant so much too and they helped me grow up and become aware of who I was and… So I am happy to hear that you understood that because that’s what the film is about. It’s a love story in a way but It’s more than a love story. The film is less conventional than that. Of course there’s love involved but even more than that, it’s about just what you said. Like how at some point two people who are very different who can’t really live together or make a couple… why they had to meet, why, there is something crucial that has a deep impact on your life coming out of this encounter, even though they go separate ways at the end.

That’s how I took it when I watched it. Why I admire you as an artist is that your film’s scale is getting bigger even though your theme - time passing and meeting someone important in your life. You always try something that is more difficult to achieve. You once told me that you were having hard time financing these films because they are grander in scale.

It’s the guilt I feel when I make these films because they are not financially viable. I obviously don’t want them to be expensive but the fact is I fight for shooting on 35mm film which is personally very important to me. And I struggle to keep a certain time, to have possibility of minimum of time because I have so many locations, I keep running from one place to another. I mean they are still cheap compared to 90 percent of films that are being made in the world but economically viable while still being free creatively like some other directors I know, I’m not smart on that side of things yet. I know I should be because it is vital to keep doing what I love doing.

No I think with all your films you show the audience that you really suffer for your art. I am grateful for it. I am grateful for watching these.

Thank you so much. Because it makes all worth it when people tell me this. It give me courage and confidence and we actually need it.

Keep doing it by all means. I don’t want to downplay the importance of this film but I’d love to see a sequel to this film. The way it ended, I want to see more of Maya since she is just starting her life.

I don’t know. it is hard to predict for myself what I’m going to do next but I enjoyed so much working with Aarshi and Roman that one thing for sure is I’d very much to work with them again at some point. I still feel frustrated about not getting enough from them.

Goa, the way you portray it, it’s going through a radical transformation with all the new constructions and all that. Is it actually happening? That the gentrification of Goa is real?

It’s maybe one thing that I’m the most proud of of the film. How faithful it is to today’s Goa. It’s a fiction and definitely not a documentary. But I’d like to frame it in such a way in fiction that I reflect the reality and capture the moment in time. I’ve seen Goa change a lot within the last 15 years and I’m not sure if I would go back there again anymore now because of these changes. Goa is certainly not a paradise but more like paradise lost. And that’s what I tried to show because there are still beauty and charms in many ways but you have so much mixed feelings when you are there because I think there are still a lot of poetry there in its heterogeneity in cultures and people all mixed up and magical because it’s still india but it’s ruined by tourism and corruption. It’s spoiling away literally both physically with pollution and mentally. I think in a way the film was my goodbye letter to Goa.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Interview: Mikhaël Hers on Grief, Music and Summer in Amanda

Mikhaël Hers
With his thoughtful presentation of loss, grief and human connection and youthful melancholy in medium length films (just around 1 hour mark) Montparnasse and Primrose Hill, I was hooked on Mikhaël Hers’ gentle artistry. With the two features that followed, Memory Lane and That Summer Feeling, he claimed his spot in a little corner in the hearts of many cinephiles as a young talent and best kept secret in contemporary French cinema. With his new film Amanda, another film dealing with the loss of a loved one in the era of ISIS and terror attacks, I had a chance to sit down with the filmmaker when he was in town for Rendez-Vous with French Cinema this year.

Your films always deal with loss and grief in some way. But it seems it is very much on the forefront in your last two films- That Summer Feeling and now Amanda. It’s interesting contrast, since your main characters are all 20 to 30 something people in their primes. I’ve always wanted to ask you where that death and grief in your work coming from.

Maybe I make films to answer that question. In any case, as soon as I start writing, that question is what drives me. It’s usually a specific locations and also the question of absence, as you described, that plays out both full, head on manner and also metaphorically. In Amanda it’s a bit more head on. It’s something I can’t really explain but, in a sense, the question has been always there in me.

We are obviously living in a pretty chaotic world- the refuge crises and the terrorist attacks and so on. It was interesting to see in Amanda that this terror attack is portrayed as an every day occurrence, something we just live with. I am wondering what you make of the state of the world we are living in.

It’s hard to answer that question. Here too, we are talking about absence. Perhaps we make films to find serenity, if serenity is possible in dealing with these things. And in cinema, in fiction, I’d rather make you to deal with those things more on a personal level, rather than making things that are completely saturated with political or social discourse. I think it is maybe possible to look at the state of the world through intimate tragedy, through daily life of these characters rather than dealing with it in an obsessed manner torn straight from the news headlines. I hope that answers your question.

Amanda was co-written by Maud Ameline not your usual collaborator Marietta Desert. How did you get to collaborate with her and what was the experience?

For this particular movie or in general?

In both cases?

I always start by writing the first draft alone. Even before that, there is rather a long maturing process which is full of wondering and false leads. But then I write fast. It’s not in me to drag writing process two or three years. When I’m done with this incubating process then I write the first draft very fast. After that I bring in a co-writer Marietta Désert or Maud Ameline. And of course they bring in much needed outside view and structure. Generally my first version is very dense and goes a lot of different directions and they help me kind of purify things and cut them down.

Vincent Lacoste is a rising star of the French cinema it seems. You have your usual actors to choose from (Thibault Vinçon comes to mind). How did you come to choose Lacoste in the role of David?

When I was writing the first draft, the age of the character was less clear whether David should be in his twenties or thirties. Once I realized the right age for the character was in the early 20s, it was quite obvious to me that it had to be Vincent Lacoste. He is the one who has the ability to create empathy. And there is something ordinary about him: one the one hand he is handsome and full of grace but he also has something rather awkward about him. It was an obvious choice for me. Once he accepted a role, our work came very naturally. It was as if the melodies we had in our heads immediately corresponded. We’d do one or two takes but very quickly we found a common note and tone.

The young girl, Isaure Multrier, who plays Amanda is also great. What was the casting process like and how did you get the performance out of her especially in those emotional scenes?

We did what we call in French ‘Casting Sauvage’, a ‘wild casting’, basically a street casting. Of course we saw some professional child actors, but there is always that uncomfortable feeling working with professional child actors. They are there to perform more of a parents’ dream than anything else. So I really counted on street casting. We went to schools. We went to sport classes and so on and when we saw this young girl we gave her this little piece of paper with the address of the production company and she came in did a screen test. I really liked the kind of mix that she is - that she is still a young child and can be very juvenile but also has a real maturity. she has an ability to express her thoughts in words. I liked those two dimensions about her.

In terms of emotional sequences, we worked as the way you’d work with adults. One tries to create an atmosphere and ambience of trust and welcoming around the actors. And I also tried to make her understand to draw from her own person and experience. That Amanda was a character and a shell and she only could play this through her own experience.

You worked with international cast before. Anders Danielsen Lie and Josh Safdie in That Summer Feeling. You have Stacey Martin and also Greta Scacchi in Amanda. How did you get to cast those roles and how did they come onboard?

I wanted some one to counter Vincent Lacoste and found it in Stacey Martin. Vincent Lacoste is a very intuitive, natural actor. Stacey is more of a cerebral actress and I like that kind of disjointed counterpoint to very intuitive Vincent. And maybe due to her dual nationality, she has a singular musicality in her speech. I don’t know if foreigners can hear but for us French, we hear in how she speaks.

As for Greta Scacchi, I was a fan of her growing up in the 80s and 90s. We needed someone who spoke English but also French to play the role of the mother. There was an opportunity to meet her. I had lunch with her few months before. But she was on the set for only one day. It’s funny she had become this person who was very important but the shoot and she came for one day and it was done. And she disappeared like that. It was like a dream.

Speaking of musicality, I love the soundtrack of your films. (Hers Laughs) How does the music factor in to your films? And how important is music for you?

Music is my first passion. It’s something that I listen to everyday unlike cinema which I can do without for weeks at a time. So it is very important. It generally comes in in the editing stage. Very quickly we find spots in the movie where the music is going to be placed. In Amanda, we called on a composer Anton Sanko who had done the music for a Nicole Kidman film called Rabbit Hole. I had really like the music in that film. The film is very interesting too but the music really spoke to me. And it stuck with me for a long time. We borrowed it for the edit then said to ourselves that we should contact him to write some original music for us. It is very interesting what he did because there’s kind of minimalist parts with an unusual string instrument and also more ample orchestrated parts. Also in my films that you seem to appreciate, a lot of indie pop songs that are from my teenage years which I enjoy paying tribute to by bring them in to my films.

Most of your films are taking place in the summer. is there a reason for that? I mean it’s really interesting contrast when you think about your subject matters you usually deal with.

For one thing it’s a very pragmatic choice. Summer is a the season that allows you to shoot in the lightest manner even though I tend to work with traditional crew. Summer allows you to work with less lighting equipment to make things faster. Also like you said, all my films has this starting point of absence. I find it more painful and powerful under a blue sky to experience that. It’s paradoxical on the one hand that Summer is about possibilities and renewal but there[’s something tears you apart a little more if you are dealing with absence. I like that ambivalence.

There is a scene, the day after the terror attack, the streets of Paris is completely empty. How did you manage that?

We shot that in the early morning. We have relatively small budget. It was not in our budget to empty a street in paris so we had to find compromises. We get PAs to maybe make a few people go different way. These are arrangement with reality.

So you’ve done films in Paris, Berlin, New York and London. Do you have any plans to shoot anywhere else?

I love Lisbon. It would be great to do a film in Lisbon and all other wonderful places but for the moment I have yet a new project. So I don’t know.

In your last film That Summer Feeling, I’ve never seen New York portrayed that romantic before. (Hers Laughs, embarrassed)

Yeah I know. That maybe because of my limitation of knowledge of the city. When you arrive in a new city you lack acuity in your gaze of someone who lives there. So there’s something a little exotic and a little romantic about how I filmed New York and in Williamsburg. Though to be perfectly honest, I didn’t know it at the time but I realize now that maybe I would film a little differently. I think I was a little bit naive. I do like the New York sequence of the film but perhaps I was a little naive.

It was fine. Job well done. I enjoyed it a lot.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Melancholic Inspiration

Ce sentiment d'lété/That Summer Feeling (2015) - Hers
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The film starts in Berlin with Sacha (Stéphanie Daub-Laurent, Hers' regular) sleeping in bed with Lawrence (Anders Danielson Lie), getting up and going to a printing studio where she vigorously works with her screen print. It's a beautiful Summer day. On her way back in the park, she falls to the ground. She is pronounced dead in the hospital and her parents and Zoë (Judith Chemla), her sister who flew in, are in shock, as well as Lawrence. Sacha's death affects her immediate surroundings greatly. The film unhurriedly and beautifully show how they slowly recover from their grief but will carry their sadness with them forever.

Hers here expands his horizon, first Berlin, then Paris, Southern France and ends in New York. Zoë with her young son has moved back to her parents in the south. The separation from David (Thibault Vinçon), her husband was a mutual decision but with death of Sacha and everything, she is in limbo, trying to figure out her next move. Lawrence visits them and there is slight attraction between them. Zoë reminds him of Sacha.

Couple of years later Lawrence is back in New York. He had a past there. Working as a translator for a book company while writing his novel, he is surrounded by group of people including June (Lana Cooper), his sister and Thomas (Josh Safdie), his wise cracking, goofy friend. Then there is Ida (Dounia Sichov) in the group he hangs out with. Their mutual attraction is palpable. Liked all the sequences but NY part I loved it. He paints NY distinctly romantic. Williamsburg in the Summer has never been portrayed this cool in grungy eclectic ways.

Zoë visits Lawrence on the way to Kentucky. She has a long lost flame there who recently resurfaced in her life. They have a good time hanging out. Their gazes are tender and caring, sharing the same grief together. Zoë sees Lawrence having a good time with Ida, how they look at each other. There are no words exchanged but you feel the sadness and also relief in Zoë's gaze.

We grieve for the loss of loved ones. It is part of human life. It's always a matter of when. Preferably later in life, but it's not always that way. For Hers, the subject seems to be a constant source of melancholic inspiration for all of his small, delicate films concerning a group of mostly young twenty, thirty something people. I like Hers' contrast - these sensitive, intelligent Parisians in their prime with their hopes and dreams connecting with one another despite, or perhaps because of losing someone close. It's always Summer. The time of rejuvenation. Their sadness has not tainted their youthful exuberance but enhanced it by putting another layer on their characters, wizened them up, if you will. Ce sentiment d'lété is perhaps the best Hers film that epitomizes this youthful melancholy.