A Tout De Suite
Opening Friday at The Belcourt
Benoît Jacquot's romantic crime-drama A Tout de Suite has been touted as an homage to the early French New Wave, which is plainly evident in the way it starts. Isild Le Bresco plays Lili, a 19-year-old straight out of a Godard fever dreamthe sort of girl who looks cool while doing bad. Ouassini Embarek plays Bada, the Moroccan crook who catches her eye. One night Lili and her girlfriend invite Bada to sleep at Lili's house, and after some awkward maneuvering around the bed, they all spend a restless night with their clothes on. In the morning, after her friend leaves, Lili takes off her pants and rewards Bada for his patience.
Later he calls her up and tells her that he's got a bag full of money, a couple of murders on his conscience and the police on his tail. She goes on the lam with him across Europe and Northern Africa, and the movieset in 1975begins to resemble the movies of that era, like Badlands or The Getaway. In voice-over, Lili notes that her time on the run was "the good life, but I don't know if it was the true life," and while their money dwindles through excessive laundering, the couple enjoy what feels like "the last vacation" of their lives.
This is A Tout de Suite at its best. Jacquot uses his teenage heroine to tease out a study of whether feeling like an adult is the same as being an adult, and he makes the most of his hand-held black-and-white digital video camerawork, catching and releasing little visual jokes. He frames the words "Je t'aime" on a shop window over Lili's head, just for a fleeting glimpse, and after Bada buys her a bracelet at the shop, the director sneaks the bracelet into the shot repeatedly over the next hour, letting it symbolize the way she's shackled to him.
But in the last third of the film, after Lili finds herself stranded in Greece, A Tout de Suite becomes more like the artier French films of the '00s. The virtual absence of music and the increasing opaqueness of Lili's character siphon off a lot of the movie's early energy. Still, it's an exhilarating ride while it lasts, in part because of its utter impossibility. Who does Jacquot think he is, trying to romanticize a cinematic style that's already deliriously romantic? Doesn't he know how quickly gilded lilies die?
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
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Wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.