Thursday 23 February 2023

Brigitte and Brigitte [1966]

 Luc Moullet was relatively late in joining the party – vis-à-vis his fellow critics from Cahiers du Cinéma – because, even though he’d made a few shorts, the Nouvelle Vague had already reached its explosive apogee by the time he made his feature debut with Brigitte and Brigitte. Hence, what might’ve garnered greater reception few years back, remained largely under the radar – a phrase that also holds true for Moullet’s prolific filmmaking career in general – and it, therefore, remains restricted mostly to those really in the know. Yet, this slight, amusing, anarchic and steadfastly idiosyncratic work boasted of an astonishing jackpot – something that’s clearly indicative of the respect that Moullet commanded among his peers for his writings on cinema – since this flea-budget film had cameos by the likes of Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol and Samuel Fuller (who Moullet had been an early champion of), and it was called “revolutionary” by Godard (possibly borne out of his genuine admiration for Moullet’s writings, even if laced with an expression of his ironic self). This tiny time capsule portrayed the absurdly conjoined lives of two eccentric girls having the same name, viz. Brigitte (Françoise Vatel and Colette Descombes) and from the provinces – their farcically coincidental similarities at the beginning were eventually overshadowed by their doltish rivalry – who become flat-mates upon moving to Paris in order to study at Sorbonne. The film’s silliness became tad stretched and even laboured in the second half, but its first half was packed with some inspired and subversive sociocultural satire on cinephilia, college politics, academia, intellectualism and Paris’ postcard monuments. Its funniest sequences included wry street surveys on filmmakers, deadpan rating of famous buildings and dry aphorisms by Fuller.

Director: Luc Moullet

Genre: Comedy/Social Satire

Language: French

Country: France

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