Friday, May 13, 2016
Jacques Rivette | Paris nous appartient (Paris Belongs to Us)
by Douglas Messerli
Jacques Rivette and Jean Gruault (screenplay), Jacques Rivette (director) Paris nous appartient (Paris Belongs to Us) / 1975, released 1961
At first, she attempts to move ahead with her own activities; she is a college student studying for exams. But as she begins, one by one, to accidently reencounter the figures from the party, meeting up with Lenz and becoming a member of his band of actors for a sort of underground production of Shakespeare’s worst play, Pericles, and then reencountering, quite by coincidence, Philip Kaufman, twice in the same day, she is sucked into the very circle of beings she at first shunned.
Several of these individuals, moreover, hint at a vague conspiracy to kill off their close-knit community. A drunken Kaufman, in particular, warns her that Lenz is in danger, perhaps because of his relationship with Yordan, and requests that Anne attempt to save him. Yet, Anne cannot, at first, even imagine what she is saving him from, let alone imagine how to begin “saving him” Yet when her previously distraught neighbor also goes missing, Anne determines to get involved.
Ultimately, she misses her exams, and proceeds, almost like an underground detective, to find the score the dead Juan had composed for Lenz’s production. Of course, as Luc Sante points out in his interesting essay “Nothing Took Place but the Place Itself,” the search for the lost guitar music is also a search “for the truth of Juan’s suicide”; but it is also a larger metaphysical search into the reasons for her generations’—of specifically the year 1957, when the film was made—youthful self-destruction.
The shaggy-dog nature of Rivette’s and Gruault’s plot helps to confirm that, as Anne begins to visit, one by one, figures connected to Juan. She first visits one of Juan’s obviously oppressed lovers, mother to one of Juan’s children. In one particularly frightening scene, Anne visits the home of the wealthy Dr. de Georges (Jean-Marie Robain), who is apparently hiding something, and whose “ward,” as he describes her, seems more than a little deranged. None of Anne’s “visits” actually leads to anything specific, and as much as her new friends suggest an invisible conspiracy, they also adamantly deny it.
Los Angeles, May 10, 2016