Tuesday 27 August 2019

Emergency Kisses (Les Baisers de Secours) [1989]

Philippe Garrel’s fascinating, intimate and masterful faux-auto-biographical movie Emergency Kisses – a continuation from L’Enfant Secret with which he’d formally begun his journey into blurring personal and cinematic realities, boundaries and spaces – can indeed be said to have put ‘meta’ into metafiction. How about considering this as the premise of this delightful and distinctively French work basking in deadpan irony – a filmmaker is making a film about his wife and himself; however, she gets intensely annoyed when, even though she’s an actress herself, he decides to cast another actress in her role in the film he’s making; and thus begins a period of separation between the couple as she construes his decision as a sign of infidelity, accuses him with following stinging words: “You don’t love me, you love my role”, and even beds a stranger. And here’s where things got darn interesting and a whole lot more ironic as all the key characters have been portrayed by the Garrel clan – the filmmaker within the film was played by Philippe, his onscreen wife was marvelously played by his then wife Brigette Sy; their then 7-year old son Louis Garrel played their onscreen son for whom they finally reconcile their cinematic marriage, even if their actual marriage didn’t ultimately survive; and Philippe’s actor-father Maurice Garrel also offers him sagacious advices to wade through his marital turmoil. Strikingly shot in grainy B/W filled with shadows and soft close-ups, and an irresistible and melancholic sax-based score imbuing it with poetic moodiness, this bewitching work ended with a reunion with filmmaker-couple friends – peppered with droll observations amidst a freewheeling conversation over a dinner at a café – that furthered its cool sensibilities and deftly self-reflexive touch.

Director: Philippe Garrel
Genre: Drama/Marital Drama
Language: French
Country: France

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