Leos Carax – Mauvais sang aka The Night Is Young (1986)


“This critically acclaimed French drama blends film noir and science fiction elements in a story about a strange and deadly plague. A sexually transmitted disease called STBO is sweeping the country; it’s spread by having sex without emotional involvement, and most of its victims are teenagers who make love out of curiosity rather than commitment. While a serum that can treat the disease has been formulated, it’s been locked away in an inaccessible government building, and most of those suffering can’t get at it. A woman known as “The American” (Carroll Brooks) has hired Marc (Michel Piccoli), who is deep in debt and desperate for cash, to steal the drug; Marc enlists the aid of Alex (Denis Lavant), the teenage son of one of his close friends, to help pull off the robbery. Alex is in love with Lise (Julie Delpy), a girl his age that he’s been involved with, but he finds himself attracted to Anna (Juliette Binoche), Marc’s younger lover who is determined to stand by her man. Mauvais Sang received the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival and the International Fantasy Film Award at the Fantasporto Film Festiva”. — Mark Deming (AMG)

“The second film in his so-called Alex trilogy, Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang might be the most ecstatic entry in the French auteur’s sparse oeuvre. A movie brimming with giddy excess and hopeless romanticism, Mauvais Sang makes no apologies for privileging sentiment over sense. The improbable sci-fi plot is perfunctory pulp; it’s nothing more than an excuse to string together exhilarating bursts of movie-drunk moments. As in the other installments of the trilogy, Carax casts the remarkable Denis Lavant as his lead and alter ego, Alex (Carax’s given name). Young and impulsive, Alex is the quintessential Carax protagonist: a brooding and romantic obsessive searching restlessly for pure — and hence, fleeting — love. Paralleling this obsession is Carax’s own passion for cinema. If his whimsy and earnestness are redolent of silent film, his exploration of the expressive possibilities of the medium recalls the early French New Wave. The movie’s elliptical cutting, stylized mise-en-sc?ne, and sound-stage look cohere into a lyrical, pop-infused view of the world. Perhaps no scene encapsulates the movie’s spirit best than a rousing musical interlude. Carax’s tracking camera follows Alex as he staggers, limps, and finally breaks into a sprint on a deserted city street to David Bowie’s “Modern Love.” Anticipating a similar musical epiphany in his next film, The Lovers on the Bridge, the scene also captures the liberating audacity of Carax’s cockeyed romanticism”. — Elbert Ventura (AMG)



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