Friday, June 7, 2024

Another Generation

Adieu Philippine (1962) - Rozier Screen Shot 2024-06-07 at 8.52.12 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-07 at 11.27.39 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-07 at 9.01.13 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-07 at 9.12.58 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-07 at 9.20.26 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-07 at 10.40.55 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-07 at 10.46.03 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-07 at 11.05.16 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-07 at 11.30.13 AM Jacques Rozier, an unsung hero of French New Wave, directed his debut feature Adieu Philippine in 1962, the same year as Godard's Breathless. In its free wheeling narrative, you can see the traces of Jules et Jim, many of Godard's road movies and even Vera Chytilova's Daisies. It's a pity that the film is just as cool and reflective of the emergence of the younger generation in French society in the 60s as Breathless, but Rozier and Adieu Philippine are much less known today.

It concerns Michel (Jean-Claude Aimini), a good looking young man who works as a cable runner in a TV studio and his on and off relationship with Juliette (Stephania Savatini) and Lilian (Yveline Céry) who are best friends since childhood. The year is 1960 and Michel is going to be called in for military draft in two months to serve in Algeria. The film tells the girls' vain attempt to stop the draft from happening while struggling with their jealousies.

The generation gap is stressed: while youngsters are working, they live at home and come home for dinner and listen to their parents. At the dinner table, the conversation ranges from the Algerian War to the legitimacy of television to financial contribution to the household. Older generation thinks the youngsters got it too easy. Girls use their charms on older men to get what they want but still very tame for today's standards.

While dating Juliette and Lilian separately, Michel gets fed up with the job at the studio and leaves for a Club Med vacation in Corsica where the vibe is very much like Spring Break in Florida. The girls follow him there to track down a sleazy film producer who owes Michel money for his commercial work. Driving and camping outdoors in a rugged Corsican coast tests the girls' resolve and temper. Their road trip comes to an end when Michel gets a notice to report in four days. He will need to sail back to the mainland.

Paris scenes are energetic in that verité style, filled with street tracking shots where people look at the camera. Michel's working in a TV studio as a working stiff is also well documented, so is a group of his friends buying an old car together to take turns to drive and pick up girls. The Corsica setting affords some very beautiful cinematography.

Rozier didn't make too many films and worked many years in TV. But if Adieu Philippine is any indication, he should be held in high regard as a pioneering director of French New Wave.