The Labyrinth of Mystery: The Films of New Wave Director Jaques Rivette
Why We Recommend it
Presented by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFF), this mini movie programme screens two films of the late acclaimed French director Jacques Rivette, ‘Up, Down, Fragile’ and ‘Who Knows?’.
The films of New Wave director Jacques Rivette (1928 – 2016) challenge questions of engagement, authenticity and improvisation. Rivette’s oeuvre–from his first short films in the 1950s, to his last feature film in 2009–testifies to his interest in experimentation and exploring alternative ways in which films can be conceived and produced.
Inspired by fellow acclaimed filmmaker Jean Renoir (1894 – 1979) , Rivette exercises “a cinema which does not impose anything… where the act of filming is part of the film itself.” He frequently encouraged actors to improvise and captured long takes, unrehearsed lines and movements.
His 1995 film Up, Down, Fragile is a charming tribute to MGM’s low-budget musicals of the 1950s. The film infuses itself in an essence of the musical genre, all while flouting its expectations. Set in Paris, Up, Down, Fragile, follows the adventures of three women: Ninon, a working-class girl taking up a job as a moped-riding messenger; Louise, an upper-class woman finding her bearings after a five-year coma; and Ida, a librarian who seeks her birth mother via a half-remembered tune.
Via impromptu intersections and seemingly random tangents, the characters interact, dance and sing – blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, and between actual sets and real locations. As is the case in other Rivette films, the actresses created their own characters, and here, also wrote some of the songs.
Who Knows? (2001) is a romantic comedy and drama film about the reality of theatre, and the theatricality of real life. The movie tells the story of three couples: Camille is a lead actress in a famous Pirandello play. Having just returned to Paris, she’s compelled to reconnect with her ex-boyfriend Pierre, who’s now living with his new partner, Sonia. Meanwhile, Camille’s director, co-star, and manager/lover Ugo searches for a lost play and ends up falling for a young student, Dominique – whose brother, Arthur, is interested in Sonia and a valuable diamond ring.