Benoît Jacquot – Les enfants du placard AKA Closet Children (1977)

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Nicola (Lou Castel) bears the psychological scars of unbearable guilt. As a boy, he was given the job of looking after his mentally unstable mother and protecting her from herself. One day, he and his sister went instead into a large closet and enacted a childishly intensive “I dare you” bonding ritual, marking one another with the blade of their father’s sword cane. While he was occupied in this manner, the boy’s mother hung herself and died. Now an adult, he still has an unhealthily strong fixation on his sister. This is so obvious that a girlfriend of his sister’s, with whom he has an affair, breaks it off, complaining that she is not interested in being a stand-in for the sister. Continue reading

Benoît Jacquot – Journal d’une femme de chambre AKA Diary of a Chambermaid (2015)

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It is an odd film: the central relationship between Joseph and Célestine is not entirely plausible, even as a desperate amour fou. But it is well acted and confidently performed. The antisemitism is a key to the film’s oppressive atmosphere. The pale, pinched neatness and pleasantness of this bourgeois household conceal a secret poison sac into which all the evil is drained: Vincent’s horrible leaflets, which express what so many respectable folk are thinking. This is a minor, flawed movie, but watchable in its suppressed, pornographic melodrama. –The Guardian Continue reading

Benoît Jacquot – La désenchantée AKA The Disenchanted (1990)

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Beth (Judith Godreche) is nearly an adult and has lived a fairly grim and unenchanting life. This is mirrored in her attraction to the similarly grim life and morose works of Arthur Rimbaud, about which she has become a quite noteworthy student. She lives at home with her mother and a younger brother. Her mother is the mistress of a wealthy man they have been taught to call “uncle,” and he has paid for their apartment all these years. Now that Beth is a lovely woman in her own right, “uncle” has indicated that he would like to transfer his attentions to her, which it not something that is agreeable to her. Meanwhile, her teen-aged boyfriend has begun making unreasonable demands on her, and she is trying to break up with him. In the three days covered by this drama, Beth’s life is transformed. Continue reading

Benoît Jacquot – Pas de scandale AKA Keep It Quiet (1999)

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In common with many of Benoit Jacquot’s films, Pas de scandale is an intensely sombre character study centred around one person experiencing a mid-life crisis. This time, his subject is a company executive who is attempting to rebuild his life after serving a prison sentence which has destroyed not just his public reputation but his self confidence. Continue reading

Benoît Jacquot – À tout de suite AKA Right Now (2004)

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Four nameless people are brought together by crime and circumstances in this visually striking drama. A naïve young woman (Isild Le Besco) who studies art and lives with her wealthy family goes to a nightclub one evening and meets a mysterious young man of Moroccan heritage (Ouassini Embarek). The two are immediately attracted to one another, and spend the night together. Not long afterward, the woman gets a phone call from her new lover, who has disturbing news — he’s in the midst of a bank robbery that’s gone wrong, and several of his accomplices have been shot by the police. The woman offers to hide the man from the authorities, and he soon arrives with the only member of his crew to made it out alive (Nicolas Duvauchelle). They spend the night hiding out with the young woman, and the next morning, the accomplice’s girl (Laurence Cordier) joins the party as the foursome leave France for Spain. However, the thieves and their women don’t take well to exile; personality clashes arise, and they discover that the stolen money is more readily identifiable than they imagined. À Toute de Suite was screened as part of the “Un Certain Regard” series at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Continue reading

Benoît Jacquot – Villa Amalia (2009)

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“From the opening rain-swept scene, in which a distraught woman, Ann (Huppert), follows her longtime b.f. Thomas (writer-director Xavier Beauvois) to his mistress’ house, actress and camera coexist in urgent lockstep. Ann’s refusal to process her lover’s betrayal radically disconnects her from any sense of continuum, her jerky, determined movements mirrored by disruptive closeups, and gaps in time and space open up between scenes as every action fades to black.

Ann discards all vestiges of her successful career as a composer/pianist — walking out in the middle of a concert, burning her sheet music and celebrated CDs. She sells her austerely luxurious Paris apartment and disposes of everything in it, turns off her phone, closes out her accounts and disappears, the camera recording every painstaking phase of the unexpectedly hard work involved. The only link she retains to her past is a long-lost childhood friend (Jean-Hugues Anglade), whom she unexpectedly runs into on the night she discovers her b.f.’s infidelity.
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