The May’68 student and trade union protests in and around Paris – which were spearheaded by radical dreamers, rebels and idealists, and had ballooned into a near-revolution – was such a dizzying, tumultuous and gloriously defiant period, that various filmmakers have delved into it over the years. While Godard (La Chinoise, Week-end, A Film Like Any Other, Tout Va Bien) has explored this period extensively, others – from Marker (A Grin Without A Cat) and Malle (May Fools) to Bertolucci (The Dreamers), Assayas (Something in the Air) and João Moreira Salles (In the Intense Now) – have covered it too. Garrel, who’d dived into it then as a young experimental filmmaker, took recourse to his lived experiences and memories for the sublimely tender, haunting, novelistic, meditative and achingly intimate Regular Lovers. The austere yet ravishing B/W photography, sumptuous but sparingly used piano score, and delicately understated tone underscored the brief moments of epiphany, stretches of bitter nostalgia and pervading melancholy. Set during the peak unrest and its immediate aftermaths, it follows François (Louis Garrel) – student and poet – who’s an active participant in the struggle against overbearing French authorities and willful draft dodger, on account of which he takes refuge at his anarchist friend’s flat. There, while discussing politics and smoking opium with fellow left-wing comrades, he enters into a doomed, passionate romance with Lilie (Clotilde Hesme), a beautiful and sexually liberated sculptor, that ends in devastating heartbreak. Louis – who played the filmmaker’s younger version with a deft touch, in his first proper collaboration with his father (he’d earlier featured as a kid in the stunning Emergency Kisses) – had ironically starred in the same year in the more popular The Dreamers which Garrel had disliked.
Director: Philippe Garrel
Genre: Drama/Romantic Drama/Political Drama/Coming-of-Age