L’Histoire de Marie et Julien

Director: Jacques Rivette


Marie and Julien harkens back to the formal and conceptual experimentalism of Rivette’s films of the 1960s and ’70s. A distinct, albeit very Rivette-ian departure from the larkish spirit of 2001’s Va Savoir! This dark (visually and emotionally),brooding drama of mysteries, conspiracies and estranged lovers will be recognised by demanding cinephiles as the highly accomplished, deeply absorbing work of a filmmaker in command of his medium. The relatively straightforward scenario (by Rivette and frequent collaborators Pascal Bonitzer and Christine Laurent) focuses on a lonely clock repairman, Julien (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), who is unexpectedly reunited with his former lover, Marie (Emmanuelle Beart). A year ago, they had an affair, but then returned to their separate lives. Now those lives no longer exist — Marie’s boyfriend is dead; Julien’s girlfriend has stormed out of their house — and so the two slowly rekindle their relationship. In a nod to the film noir stylisations (particularly those of Fritz Lang) that have long fascinated Rivette, Julien is enmeshed in a blackmail plotagainst one Madame X (Anne Brochet) — a seller of counterfeit Chinese antiques about whose illicit activities Julien possesses incontrovertible proof, and a woman who may knowsomething more about Marie than she initially lets on. Only in the film’s final act does the full extent of Rivette’s design become clear, as Marie and Julien reveals itself as an elegant foray into the horror realm.

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