Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Je T'Aime, Je T'Aime [1968]

Alain Resnais never deterred from pushing the boundaries of the medium of cinema. Though not as well-known even among cinephiles as Hiroshima Mon Amour or Last Year at Marienbad, Je T’Aime, Je T’Aime Je T’Aime nonetheless remains as one of his most audacious works – both in terms of its formal experiments, and in its affecting meditations on time and memory. A young man named Claude (Claude Rich) has just recovered from a suicide attempt, upon which he is recruited by a group of scientists to be a lab rat in their experiments on time travel to the past. Till then it didn’t just seem to be a pretty straightforward film, but also just another hastily made, low-budget sci-fi flick. But what transpires then is what the film was all about – a fascinating journey through all his memories with scant regard for chronology or linearity. Claude traverses through various incidents in his life – depicted via sequences ranging from short bursts to full-fledged ones which were longer and more fully developed – presented, in no particular order, as a mosaic of his life, his recurring memories, and experiences (specifically his relationship with an enigmatic lady) that eventually led him towards despair and suicide. The kaleidoscopic narrative might make one feel lost initially, but a thread slowly and teasingly developed, and deciphering this subtle thread was one of the great joys of watching this otherwise gleefully confounding film. The accompanying philosophical ruminations, especially on the inescapability from one’s past, was deeply melancholic and disquieting. To say that this avant-garde movie owes its inspirations to Chris Marker’s landmark short La Jetee would be an understatement.

Director: Alain Resnais
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Sci-Fi/Avant-Garde/Experimental Film
Language: French
Country: France


Sam Juliano said...

Yes this film is audacious and it's melancholic and ruminative. And yes it does of course owe quite a bit to LA JETEE. I'm a fan and think you nailed it!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. Though not an easy film by any stretch of imagination, Resnais still managed to keep me engaged. This was a really audacious experiment with form, and the deep sense of melancholia was strongly palpable throughout.