By Alec Julian & Carrie White
Despite its title, Philippe Garrel’s sedate new film, LA JALOUSIE, like it’s bohemian characters, generally eschews all things envy, presenting dilemmas in material terms.
Through a keyhole, Charlotte (Olga Milshtein) witnesses her young father, Louis (Louis Garrel), leave her resultantly heartbroken mother, an office worker with whom he’s fallen out of love. The paragon of exuberance, Charlotte is apparently unperturbed by the state of affairs, remaining the least scarred character by the film’s end.
The same cannot be said about the struggling actor Louis, nor Claudia (Anna Mouglalis), the disconsolate, unsuccessful actress for whom Louis leaves his wife. The new lovers move into a garret apartment, and their relationship seems to work. Louis remains a doting, albeit impecunious father, while flirting with other women in an acceptable la vie bohème kind of a way. Charlotte, too, has “secrets,” although her infidelity resounds more fatefully.
Talk of Mayakovsky and Seneca aside, Claudia’s unsettled by her destitute conditions, desiring at least a vocation. When Louis, who avers his own infinite capacity to love, tries to console Claudia by telling her that all that matters is that they love one another, she rebukes, “You cannot love in a void.” This is more likely a reference to their scroungy shared living space she comes to call a “hole” than her meaningless existence, as she later complains that she doesn’t mind being broke, but she cannot tolerate being poor.
Though set in present day Paris, cinematographer Willy Kurant’s blunt monochromatic images evoke a bygone era. The tight framing does little to flaunt the city of lights, though Hector Guimard’s Métropolitain entrances are a giveaway. This is the fourth project father and son, Louis and Philippe, have collaborated on, and joining them is daughter and sister, Esther Garrel, portraying Louis’ sister, helping invoke a metanarrative reinforced throughout the film.
LA JALOUSIE’s crowning jewel is the non-rushed pacing, which gives us more intimate time with each character than many films twice its length. Nevertheless, its short 72-minute running time disjoints its storylines, leaving some loose ends.
C’est la vie.
Carrie White is the best-selling author of Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life. She tweets @carriewhitehair.
Alec Julian is a Los Angeles based writer. Follow him @PaparazziPorn.