8 March 2009

Va Savoir / Who Knows (2001) : A Review

After three years' absence, stage actress Camille Renard (Jeanne Balibar) returns to Paris to perform in an Italian play. The company's director and her lover, Ugo Bassini (Sergio Castellitto) frets that the season would be a failure. Between performances, the two drift apart. Camille visits her ex-lover, Pierre (Jacques Bonnaffé), a philosophy lecturer who is still working on his thesis on Heidegger. She finds him rather cold towards her, and he is now married to Sonia (Marianne Basler), a ballet teacher. Meanwhile Ugo spends his time visiting libraries looking for a missing manuscript by an 19th century playwright, where he meets Dominque (Hélène de Fougerolles), a delectable graduate student. Ugo later discovers that Dominque's family may have a copy of the manuscript he is looking for. The circle of relationships between the characters closes when we find that Dominique's half-brother, Arthur (Bruno Todeschini), a gambler, is seducing Sonia with the intention of stealing her ring.

Director and co-writer Jacques Rivette constructs a refined farce where the characters search for something that is right under their noses, and their story is reflected in the (uncredited) Pirandello play that Camille and Ugo are staging. It's a slow-paced film (the version I watched is 154 minutes long, and there's an even longer version!) and while I was not bored, this film is probably aimed at viewers more literate in theatre and literature than me.

French and Italian with English subtitles.

3 out of 5 stars.
7 March 2009
Kam-Hung Soh

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