Jacques Rivette1981-1990ArthouseDramaFrance

Jacques Rivette – La bande des quatre AKA Gang of Four (1989)

Gang of Four (French: La Bande des quatre) is a 1989 French drama film directed by Jacques Rivette. It was entered into the 39th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won an Honourable Mention.

La Bande des Quatre (domestically known as Gang Of Four) is Jacque Rivette’s 1988 film that meanders through the close knit lives of a group of female acting school students in Paris. When I say meander, I REALLY mean meander, because Rivette chooses to let his film gradually unfurl at a hypnotically slow pace that at times borders on the voyeuristic, with it’s long, static shots of breakfast and dinner conversations and the like. At first, this style of filmmaking straddles the line between dull and engaging, but Rivette’s film is saved by a quartet of strong young actresses.

The plot is centered around the exclusive acting school run by Constance Dumas (Bulle Ogier), and the assorted group of students under her tutelage, especially Anna (Fejria Deliba), Claude (Laurence Cote), Joyce (Bernadette Giraud) and Lucia (Ines d’Almeida). The four girls share a house, with Anna being the most recent flat mate after Cecile (Nathalie Richard) moves out. The crux of the film focuses on a mysterious stranger (Benoit Regent) who is seeking information about Cecile, and begins a series of individual encounters with Anna, Claude, Joyce and Lucia in order to retrieve something left behind in the house. The trouble is, he gives each girl a different story, a different name, and a different item he is allegedly searching for, and that layers the film with a small level of mystery as Rivette simultaneously leads the viewer through the almost mundane aspects of the character’s lives, even as he interjects a subplot regarding a mysterious ghost that is never fully developed.

One of the artsy narrative elements employed by Rivette are the sequences that feature the girls rehearsing a play under the strict scrutiny of Constance Dumas, and how these scenes parallel the developing story. At first I found these occasionally lengthy segments distracting, but as the film progressed and I became more immersed in the characters lives, the impact of the theatrical dialogue became more and more relevant despite the blatant triteness of this plot device.

La Bande des Quatre could have easily become mired in extreme dullness and pomposity were it not for the strength of the four leads, especially Laurence Cote as the sexually confused Claude. Cote delivers a heartfelt turn in a role that begins the film in a very minor way, and eventually becomes one of the more pivotal players in the story. Her character is the most complex of the bunch, and she has a very strong and natural screen presence that is hard to ignore.

2.48GB | 2h 41m | 994×574 | mkv



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