Philippe Garrel – La Frontière de l’aube AKA Frontier of the Dawn (2008)


Love is a universe of two in Philippe Garrel’s fatalistic romance “Frontier of Dawn.” Shot in richly textured and contrasting black-and-white celluloid, it centers on a young photographer, François (Louis Garrel, the filmmaker’s son), and the two women with whom he finds and loses love. After his affair ends with Carole (Laura Smet), a famous actress given to flare-ups and meltdowns, he immerses himself in a new life with Eve (Clémentine Poidatz), who promises him a child and perhaps a chance at real happiness. There’s more, including madness, electroshock treatment, a discussion about the cost of baby diapers, and the sudden emergence of a ghost in a mirror, all of which Mr. Garrel connects so loosely that they feel more like moments out of time than narrative fragments. — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times Continue reading Philippe Garrel – La Frontière de l’aube AKA Frontier of the Dawn (2008)

Philippe Garrel – Sauvage Innocence AKA Wild Innocence (2001)


A man creating a cautionary tale about drug abuse finds himself and his lover drawn into the deadly web of heroin in this drama. Francois Mauge (Mehdi Behaj Kacem) is a filmmaker who is still dealing with the death of his wife, a well-known model and actress who succumbed to drugs. Determined to make a statement about his loss through his work, Francois decides to direct a film about a woman struggling with addiction called “Wild Innocence,” and casts an attractive young actress named Lucie (Julia Faure) in the leading role. Francois soon falls for Lucie and they become lovers, but Francois loses financing for his project, and in order to continue filming, he approaches a less-than-scrupulous financier, Chas (Michel Subor), who was friends with Francois’ late wife. Chas offers to back the movie, but under one condition — Francois has to help him smuggle a large quantity of heroin into France. As if this ugly irony were not enough, Lucie develops a curiosity about drugs while researching her role, and tries snorting heroin; before long, she’s devolved into a full-blown addict. Philippe Garrel’s film was inspired in part by his romance with Nico, the noted model, musician, and actress who herself developed a very serious drug habit during the course of their relationship. Continue reading Philippe Garrel – Sauvage Innocence AKA Wild Innocence (2001)

Philippe Garrel – La naissance de l’amour AKA The birth of love (1993)


A dispassionate and bedraggled middle-aged actor named Paul (Lou Castel) bids a polite farewell to the lady of the house, Hélène (Dominique Reymond) before setting out into the street, accompanied by his solemn and equally impassive host Markus (Jean-Pierre Léaud) to the local convenience store to purchase a pack of cigarettes before saying goodbye to his old friend for the evening. Seeking to break the pensive silence of their evening walk, Paul steers their idle conversation into a conduit for personal reflection on Markus’ seemingly life-altering moment when he first met Hélène, a question that Markus – perhaps betraying an insecurity over the tenuous state of his relationship with her – responds to the question with initial, guarded skepticism, before proceeding to tell the genial anecdote of Hélène’s forwardness in her suggestive, inviting remark that had serve to validate their coy, thinly veiled pursuit of mutual seduction during their second encounter. However, a succeeding conversation between the couple reveals Hélène’s increasing apathy towards the cultivation of their relationship as Markus attempts to elicit a validation of her love for him to no avail, disguising their failed, awkward intimacy through the mundane rituals of the kitchen and random comments about the war. Continue reading Philippe Garrel – La naissance de l’amour AKA The birth of love (1993)

Philippe Garrel – Les Amants réguliers (2005)


It has been two years since Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers revisited the incendiary events in Paris over May of 1968. Philippe Garrel recasts his own memories of this momentous period when students and workers almost toppled a government in a film that will have critics and audiences searching for superlatives. Les Amants réguliers is masterly in every respect. Garrel shot the film in black and white and very much in the film style of the day; we can literally feel Godard, Rohmer and Bresson looking over his shoulder. It has an unadorned sense of verisimilitude that captures the spirit of the sixties and the lives of the students who form the narrative’s core, balancing the contradictory idealism and nihilism of a generation trying to grapple with its restless ambitions. Continue reading Philippe Garrel – Les Amants réguliers (2005)

Philippe Garrel – Marie pour mémoire AKA Marie for Memory (1967)

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Parallel lives of two couples destined to suicide, one, and unhappiness, the other.

Marie pour mémoire is the first feautre film of Philippe Garrel, he shot it when he was 19 years old. The movie won the Grand Prix at the Hyères young cinema festival in April 1968.

It is a story of two adolescents, Marie and Jésus who love each other and wants to live together. Their parents refuse this idea. Marie and Jésus get hurt under the order of a police-society.

Philippe Garrel said about this film: “Marie describes the trauma of the new generation.” Continue reading Philippe Garrel – Marie pour mémoire AKA Marie for Memory (1967)

Philippe Garrel – J’entends plus la guitare AKA I Don’t Hear the Guitar Anymore (1991)


Review by Alice Liddel

“J’entends plus la guitare” is dedicated to the memory of Nico, the Swedish model and actress who was director Garrel’s muse, most famous as the blonde Marcello meets at the castle party in “La Dolce Vita”, and the singer with the haunted monotone on the Velvet Underground’s extraordinary “Banana” album. the heroine of the film is a blonde German who, like Nico, turns to drugs – her last appearance is marked by a pun on heroine/heroin (the Velvets’ most famous song), and the Velvet-esque guitar of the title is no longer heard by the hero, or the director. The female is usually signalled in Garrel’s films by music, as if music itself was somehow a feminine principle – the “Je”, therefore, is plausibly the director’s, offering the film as a mea culpa, blaming himself for a death triggered by pure male egotism. Gerard is one of the least likeable characters in European cinema, an emotional vampire who needs to suck the emotional blood out of countless women, leaving them diminished, empty, to save himself from a similar fate Continue reading Philippe Garrel – J’entends plus la guitare AKA I Don’t Hear the Guitar Anymore (1991)

Philippe Garrel – Le Coeur fantome AKA The Phantom Heart (1996)


A hangdog, middle-aged painter falls in love with a tender young college student after he leaves his philandering wife and his children in this romantic French drama. To console himself, the fundamentally bohemian Phillippe finds comfort in the arms of various prostitutes, especially Valeria. It is while searching for her that he meets lovely Justine, the student. Sparks fly and they move into together. Things go well until Phillippe begins pining for his children. This makes insecure Justine terribly jealous and tumult erupts until the aging artist is able to discover the true source of his anxieties. Continue reading Philippe Garrel – Le Coeur fantome AKA The Phantom Heart (1996)