Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Darren, can you say a little more about how/when Dumont lost your trust/faith? Or did you simply outgrow whatever themes he deals with?

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

I rewatched Dumont's first four films about a year-and-a-half ago with the idea of interviewing him about Hors Satan. My general opinion was that Life of Jesus is exactly as great as I'd remembered, L'Humanite has a couple good moments, Twentynine Palms is still more interesting to write about than to watch, and Flandres is a bore. I've only seen Hadewijch and Hors Satan once, but both confirmed my general feeling that Dumont should've been a novelist. I keep coming back to him because I'm interested in the ideas at play in his work, but he seems to be getting worse at realizing those ideas cinematically. Nothing in his last four films has come close to matching the images of Freddie and his friends drumming in Life of Jesus or Pharaon's scream in L'Humanite.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 7 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

A four-star review from Sheila O'Malley at rogerebert.com.

 

 

Cinema can be one of the most empathetic of arts. When done well, its immediacy, its sense of experiencing another life (fictional or not) can bring about an expansion of understanding, an overwhelming telescoping of consciousness. "Camille Claudel 1915", the latest by French director Bruno Dumont, is that kind of cinema.[...] It's a harrowing film, made even more so by the raw performance of Juliette Binoche as Camille Claudel. By the end, you are left with a feeling of helplessness, rage, and a kind of abstracted bafflement. How did this happen? You want to intervene (the key sign of a classic tragedy). All credit to Dumont and Binoche here, who approach their difficult subject without blinking. 
Edited by Anodos
Link to post
Share on other sites

The first hour of this film is kind of repetitive -- the asylum is miserable, the asylum is miserable -- but then Camille's brother enters the picture and things get a little more interesting. Downright theological, even. Kind of made me wish I knew more about the biographies of these characters.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...

Serious A&F Top 100 potential here, amiright?

 

Not saying it's a lock, but definitely worthy of consideration. There's a moment about an hour into this film that made me want to grab the nearest person in the theater (I saw the film by myself) and start jabbering, asking questions, say "Can you believe this?" etc. etc. I haven't had an experience like that while watching a movie since seeing the much-discussed conversation between prisoner and priest in Steve McQueen's Hunger a few years ago. 

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm flummoxed by the reviews of this film I'm reading online. As usual, I'm wondering if film critics are capable of treating sincere expressions of spirituality that might complicate the hero/villain paradigm they seem to want to fit most movies into (in the sense of the religious person being the villain). I could be convinced that I'm wrong on this film, and that

Paul

is a villain and is supposed to be perceived as such, but that's not how it played for me as the film unspooled. The ending challenged my notions of the religious expressions in this film, but as with Beyond the Hills, I don't think it's easy to point fingers at the religious characters as obvious villains.

 

I was heartened to see this comment under Jonathan Romney's rave review of the film for Film Comment. This was my first Dumont film, so I can't vouch for the commenter's opinion in regard to Dumont's overall output, but it makes sense in the context of this particular film: 

 

Angelo 

 

Regarding Dumont's closures -- I don't think his films offer a critique of spirituality and transcendence. They're quite sincere. Maybe that distinction gets lost because, outwardly, his films challenge what spirituality is (the way Kieslowski did in The Decalogue). Woody Allen's films offer more of a critique of spiritual transcendence, in the way his deluded and seemingly simple characters find solace in naive notions. Dumont's simpletons, on the contrary, are privy to profound revelation and catharsis, which we accept not as part of some delusion, but as an upheaval capable of resolving mental or spiritual contradictions. That's the way I see it, at any rate.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree completely with that comment, Christian. (I'm guessing "Angelo" is Angelo Muredda, a great young critic in Toronto.) Dumont is obsessed with transcendence--genuinely and rigorously obsessed with it. He's also heavily indebted to the pantheon of transcendental filmmakers (Tarkovsky, Bresson, Dreyer, etc.), whose fingerprints are all over his films. He just doesn't believe in God (as far as I know).

 

I can't believe you've participated on a discussion forum with me and MLeary for more than a decade and this was your first Dumont film! You really need to watch The Life of Jesus.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember first reading about Dumont in a Peter Brunette Cannes recap for a site called Film.com. He was saying that L'Humanite was a highly controversial Plame d'Or winner, if memory serves, or maybe the tone of his comments made it clear that Brunette wasn't much of a fan.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Chicago Reader:

... Still beautiful at 49, Binoche has the sort of delicate features that might compel a sculptor, and she gives an extraordinary performance in a role of near-complete suffering. There are other examples of the female form on display as well, but they may give you nightmares: Dumont has cast real mental patients as the inmates of the Montdevergues Asylum near Avignon, and there are punishing long takes of these poor child-women as they gibber and rant. I've read plenty of online references to the "controversy" surrounding this, but I haven't found anyone actually complaining about it, so any controversy may be wishful thinking on the publicists' part. There's nothing exploitative in giving an ill person some activity that will probably raise her self-esteem; on the other hand, these loud, senseless women are the movie's definition of hell on earth: "They cry out, they bawl, they snivel, they laugh," Camille weeps into the shoulder of her brother Paul when he comes to visit her. "It's unbearable. A sort of creature that even their parents can't stand. Why am I here?"

 

Born four years after Camille, Paul Claudel wrote verse plays and worked in the French diplomatic corps; when their father died in 1913, he moved quickly to have his sister committed. In a startling narrative shift, Dumont abandons Camille to her braying companions after about an hour and takes up with Paul (Jean-Luc Vincent), a fiercely devout Catholic first seen praying passionately on a hilltop before dawn: "You are the given word, studded with iron nails, the title in which I place my hope." Dumont introduces Paul in scenes of natural splendor and quiet peace; a similar mood infuses scenes of the mental patients being led through the hilly countryside by nuns. Yet the real question posed is whether Paul decided to make his unfortunate sister a partner in his devotion by subjecting her, for her last 30 years, to a life studded with iron nails.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if that's "the real question." It might be, but couldn't it just as easily be,

why'd the doctor take so long to approve her release

? Or

just how sick is/was Camille? I mean, she's obviously not 100% healthy mentally, if far from the state of the other patients

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if that's "the real question." It might be, but couldn't it just as easily be ...

I have noticed, Christian, that you have been trying to encourage discussion here. I will participate and think more about what you are asking as soon as I can see this. Unfortunately this is another one at the very top of my to-see list, while all the theaters near me are only playing films about legos, robot cops, vampires and valentine's leftovers.

 

In the meanwhile, if you hadn't seen any Dumont films before this, I can strongly recommend Hadewijch, which is also available on Netflix instant viewing right now.  It's another film that asks very interesting questions about religion, is very respectful about faith and also casts strong doubts (that should, of course, lead to further good questions).

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...
  • 5 months later...

This has been streaming on Netflix since May -- and no one here has posted thoughts since then?

 

I was reminded of this film because Binoche's work in 1,000 Times Good Night is so strong (I wasn't too high on the overall film) and, combined with this performance, which I saw only in 2014 when it played in D.C., makes her my actress of the year. I've hesitated to group films together like that in determining my own choices for year's best performers, but other critics groups do it with some regularity. 

 

There's still plenty of time for some other performer to overtake Binoche as my 2014 favorite, but let's face it: The chances of that happening are close to zero. She's an extraordinary actress, and these two roles have been among her best.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

I did not know this thread was present, Christian. Thanks for bumping it. 

 

I was hoping to write about Camille at some point, because there are aspects about it that are so compelling from the art/theology/cinema perspective. Dumont's legacy as one riffing on the great European transcendentalists is a matter of record, but I think he is misunderstood as an artist also grappling with the ghosts of Christianity in European culture. We tend to write off all things EU as "post-Christian" in the sense that Europe has evolved or fully obtained the goals of Enlightenment, but Dumont's films are an almost prophetic reminder that there are vestiges of something that makes France or Twentynine Palms or 1915 a dangerous place to be.

 

In addition, Dumont seems obsessed in a good way about the way we are both spiritual and material creatures, which is a philosophical throwback to the metaphysics of Rousseau or similarly-minded continental philosophers that is so intriguing as a theme of art.

 

And then there is the art of Camille Claudel, which when seen is as hard to quantify intellectually. Like Rodin, some of her sculptures seem impossible in their honesty and vividness and movement - which I think is something Dumont's film at least points as toward.

 

I have not seen Dumont's TV series and am trying to track that down, but I would be okay with this film signaling a different direction for his work.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

This has been streaming on Netflix since May -- and no one here has posted thoughts since then?

 

I was reminded of this film because Binoche's work in 1,000 Times Good Night is so strong (I wasn't too high on the overall film) and, combined with this performance, which I saw only in 2014 when it played in D.C., makes her my actress of the year. I've hesitated to group films together like that in determining my own choices for year's best performers, but other critics groups do it with some regularity. 

 

There's still plenty of time for some other performer to overtake Binoche as my 2014 favorite, but let's face it: The chances of that happening are close to zero. She's an extraordinary actress, and these two roles have been among her best.

 

 

Don't forget...she also has Clouds of Sils Maria currently in festival release!

 

Then again, Marion Cotillard had THE IMMIGRANT earlier in the year with TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT on deck. 

 

Life's full of wonderfully tough choices sometimes.

Link to post
Share on other sites

kenmorefield wrote:

: Don't forget...she also has Clouds of Sils Maria currently in festival release!

: Then again, Marion Cotillard had THE IMMIGRANT earlier in the year with TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT on deck.

 

But was Cotillard in Godzilla?

 

Didn't think so.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

This has been streaming on Netflix since May -- and no one here has posted thoughts since then?

 

It was only recently that a friend came to me with so much enthusiasm about this film that I decided I'd give it a shot. But I haven't found the right time... it doesn't look like a movie for a weeknight after a long day at work. It looks like a movie for a Saturday afternoon when I have time to write about it as soon as it's over.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, see it when you're not wiped out. Peter's post #7 in this thread is on the mark -- that first hour is tough.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

After all my talk about how, in my book, this is a 2014 film, I left it off my months-in-the-making Top 20 Films of 2014 list! 

 

It would have been high up on the list, too.

 

Stupid oversight. 

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...

Popping in because I've been thinking of nominating this film for our "Waking Up" list, but dang it, I can't remember the specifics of the big turn this film takes about halfway through, and whether it constitutes "waking up" in any of the various senses given for other nominees on that list, or if it's simply explained as the introduction of a certain character who expresses particular beliefs we haven't seen expressed earlier, or at least not in the same way. 

Re-reading the posts here, I decided to post also to bump this thread and see if anyone else here ever caught up with the film.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...