Friday, July 14, 2006

Le temps qui reste (Time to Leave) - Movie Review

Le temps qui reste 2005

What if you were told you had three months to live? How would you spend the time that remains? Well, if you were a young, gorgeous, up-and-coming fashion photographer with a penchant for snorting coke and fucking young blonde men then you would have the basis for one of the most emotionally daring, visually ravishing and darkly entertaining films in recent memory. Helmed by our favorite young international filmmaker, François Ozon, “Le temps qui reste” is a near perfect examination of a truncated life.

It also doesn’t hurt the film’s success that it stars the hottest piece of cul and our new future husband, Melvil Poupaud! (Melvil? We’ll get used to it.) But if the flick only had a robustly sexual young gent in the lead to lather up over, hell we’d be better off renting from Falcon Studios. Praise the movie Gods and Goddesses, that our new husband Melvil is not only perfect for the part, but a damn fine actor as well. As Romain, the spoiled young hedonist, he captures the flippant gaze and self absorbed insouciance of a young gay stud whose life seems to be hitting all the right marks. His talent demands respect, his temperament cows his co-workers and family alike and his indulgence in life’s little pleasures go unchecked by those that care the most for his well being.

A well being that is brought to an abrupt halt by the discovery of a series of cancerous tumors that will claim his young life in the blink of an eye. When faced with a non existent hope of successful treatment, he begins to embark on a voyage of . . . well less self-discovery and more of an attempt to finally realize any solid purpose in life. Romain has been a “bad” boy. In the view of most of his peers and loved ones. But has his sinfully pleasurable existence truly condemned him to die alone?

His parents care deeply for him, in their own bourgeois shallow way. His sister is a constant cause of aggravation, probably due to her own envious attempt to find happiness in child rearing. His boyfriend indulges and inspires his self gratification, but clearly as we will learn is not just a pretty young thing to be tossed away casually. And most importantly for Romain’s ultimate apotheosis, his beloved grand-mère loves and respects him unequivocally.

Once Romain has decided to alert nobody in his immediate circle of his illness, he begins his final voyage by rushing to the arms of his grand-mère to vent his pain and anguish. Luckily for Romain and for us moviegoers, this solid source of hope is enacted with affection, humor and brilliance by the grand dame of the Nouvelle VagueMadame Jeanne Moreau. We pray we don’t have to explain who she is . . . sigh, alright. Go rent the following: “Ascenseur pour l’échafaud”, “Les Amants”, Les Liaisons Dangereuses” (No, not Glenn’s, the original!),Moderato Cantabile”, “La Notte”, “Jules et Jim”, “Eva”, “La Baie des Anges”, “Le Journal d’une Femme de Chambre“, ‘’Viva Maria !’’, ‘’La Mariée était en noir“ and “The Summer House“. There ! (Go ahead and rent “La Femme Nikita“ and “Ever After“ too if you must, but don’t tell anybody we sent you.)

You done ? Good. Isn’t she fucking incredible? Well, here she is equally formidable. Age cannot whither the acting prowess of such a force of nature, and her quiet, intense final meeting with her beloved grandson will rip your heart out with its tenderness and veracity. Brilliant. Fucking brilliant.

Added to the mix of family and lovers comes a startling new face. A local waitress en route to grandmother’s house as portrayed by the equally brilliant Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi. Most filmgoers will not recognize this powerhouse, (If you blinked during last year’s “Munich”, you would have missed her.) but to Ozon fans, her blistering portrayal in his masterwork of a crumbling marriage seen in reverse: “5 x 2 is not to be missed. Add that one to your list as well, kids.

As Jany, a small town gal with dreams of her own, Valeria pulls off an almost absurdist motivation with aplomb. We won’t reveal her secret; suffice to say it comes as a brilliant bit of serendipity that serves to propel Romain towards his grand finale with a sense of spiritual calm. And finally, it is his very quest to discover a purpose in his tumultuous life that anchors this tale. Told with true control of the medium, which has become François Ozon’s international calling card – “Le temps qui reste” succeeds completely as an examination of a seemingly self absorbed man who must strip himself of all he loves in order to find peace in the end.
Much has been written about Mr. Ozon, and his unabashed love for film and in particular aged actresses. Well, all we can say about our François, is God Bless Him for taking the time to study film and absorb the mechanics, in order to be able to tell his tales visually, and carefully to full impact. We first became aware of his amazing talent with “Sous le sable”, a neat thriller starring the wonderful and criminally underused Charlotte Rampling. They would team up once again for an even better flick, the sinister, simmering “Swimming Pool” that was a joy from start to finish. But nothing prepared us for his homage to Douglas Sirk, MGM Musicals and the incredible talents of eight of France’s best actresses in the whimsical and magical “8 Femmes”! That convinced us that we would be fans for life.

Not since Pedro Almodóvar leapt upon the international film scene in the 1980s have we been so impressed by a young director’s body of work. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s quite the cutey! Awww. Settle down girls, he’s gay. Boys, we don’t know if he’s up for grabs . . . but we’ll let you take a shot, as we will be too busy with our future husband Melvil. Melvil? Still can’t get used to that.

And we venture a collective hunch that you will not get used to the elegantly painful and visually elegiac ending to the flick that for a brief moment transcends your average moviegoing experience. Do yourselves a favor, forget the seemingly downbeat theme and venture forth to your nearby Art House Cinema and bask in the glory of “Le temps qui reste”. You never know when your doctor might give you a death sentence and you’ll just be kicking yourselves in the grave for having missed it! Bless you all!

Written & Directed by François Ozon

Melvil Poupaud as Romain
Jeanne Moreau as Laura
Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi as Jany
Daniel Duval as Le père
Marie Rivière as La mère
Christian Sengewald as Sasha
Louise-Anne Hippeau as Sophie

Cinematography by Jeanne Lapoirie
Film Editing by Monica Coleman
Music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Arvo Pärt & Valentin Silvestrov
Production Design by Katia Wyszkop
Costume Design by Pascaline Chavanne


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