Tuesday, March 26, 2013

351. Hiroshima mon amour (1959)

Running Time: 91 minutes
Directed By: Alain Resnais
Written By: Marguerite Duras
Main Cast: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada
Click here to view the trailer


Having never seen an Alain Resnais movie, prior to "Night and Fog" a couple of days ago (which barely counted, since it was only thirty minutes and a docuementary), I wasn't sure what to expect from "Hiroshima mon amour". I went into kind of blind and was surprised at what I found.

The film starts out kind of like "Night and Fog 2", only this time Resnais focuses on the Japanese of Hiroshima and life (or lack thereof) after the bomb was dropped. We get some some documentary footage of the citizens of Hiroshima, spliced with some footage shot at the Hiroshima museum. While we're seeing this, we can hear a man and a woman talking. A woman who talks about what she remembers from Hiroshima and a man trying to convince her that she remembers nothing. After this (which lasts about 15-20 minutes), we meet the man and woman. She (Riva) is a married French actress, in Hiroshima to shoot a movie, He (Okada) is a married Japanese architect and together, they are having an affair. After that initial 15-20 minutes, the movie is pretty straightforward. They talk in the hotel; about nothing in particular. Soon she has to leave, to be on the set and he pleads with her to meet him again. She says she can't, that today is the last day of her shoot and then she is returning to Paris. She leaves, but he follows her to the set and tries to convince her some more and eventually she agrees to see him again. That night, they go to dinner and she recalls being twenty-years-old and living in Nevers. She tells a (very long) story about having a German lover, who got killed, which sent her into a complete and total nervous breakdown. She is also shamed (because she was having an affair with a German soldier), has her head shaved and is kept locked in a cellar most days. That takes us as far as I'll go and I'll let you find out the rest for yourself.


Whew, where do I start with this one?

Did I like "Hiroshima mon amour" or did I dislike it? That is the question. Well, I really couldn't say definitively. How about we address the negative first and then, maybe, I'll find a nice segue into the positive. For starters, the film is WAY too poetic. The dialogue is entirely too scripted and despite the film dealing with seemingly true to life characters, having an affair (a true to life situation), the dialogue wasn't real in the slightest. Add to that the fact that it repeats, over and over. Little pieces of dialogue, being recited again and again, after a while, gets to be a little on the annoying side. Perhaps the repetition was part of the story, as the film DOES deal heavily with memory, but nevertheless, it got a little old. I guess the only other negative thing I could say about "Hiroshima mon amour" is that, I guess, I didn't entirely understand it. Now, I'll talk about this in a bit, but honestly, when the film ended, I was a little confused. I'm not talking about what I saw because everything that I saw, I understood. What I'm talking about is that I just that I think there was something there that I wasn't getting. The score seemed to elude to something more meaningful happening, at certain points and I just wasn't picking up on it. This, ultimately, is probably my own fault for not being able to form a proper connection to the film.

Despite not forming that full connection, I was highly intrigued by this film. It left me deep in thought, a thought process that churned on throughout my entire day today (I watched this last night). I wanted to love it and I'm able to admit that there were definite flashes of genius movie making at work here. There were moments when I thought, maybe, Okada's character didn't really exist, that he was a figment of Riva's imagination. We already know that she had a forbidden affair with a German soldier (while living in France, at the end of World War II) and that perhaps, she longed for another affair. There are multiple instances in the film where She refers to Him as the German lover and sometimes he even refers to himself as the German lover...what was that all about? Of course, there's also the end, which also left me a little perplexed, the moment when the two refer to each other as "Hiroshima" and "Nevers". Perhaps it was a device for remember one another. He'll always remember her by the story she told him about living in Nevers and she'll remember him because he lives in Hiroshima, a city that obviously had/has an impact on her life, based on the tragedy that happened there. The film DOES have that running theme of people who pass in and out of lives and explores it. I've always found that particular exploration to be one that I am interested in.

Ultimately, I was HIGHLY intrigued and sometimes that's my favorite of all feelings that a movie can leave me with. Even if I'm not picking everything up that a movie is laying down, I'm content to simply be intrigued, perplexed and put into deep thought (something I presume "Last Year at Marienbad" will do to me, as well). I'm going to keep rolling this one over and over in my head and who knows what the final result will be come TOP 20 time, but for now I have no problem with THE BOOK referring to this one as a "must see".

RATING: 7/10  I may regret that rating later, but that's what the recaps are for, so if need be, we'll adjust it when the time comes. Next up for Resnais: "Last Year at Marienbad".


March 26, 2013  6:14pm

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