Wild Grass (Sony Pictures Classics, PG)

As the story progresses, so does the overall mood of the film.


In the year 1959, French director Alain Resnais helped usher in the French New Wave with his Hiroshima mon amour. The film was extremely influential, inspiring a new generation of filmmakers and propelling Resnais’s distinguished career. At last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the Jury gave his latest opus, the inventive and offbeat romantic comedy Wild Grass, a Special Jury Prize in honor of his body of work and contributions to cinema.
The film tells the story of Georges Palet (Andre Dussollier, a Resnais regular), a man who possesses a dark secret from his past. He is discontent with his life and is no longer interested in his wife and family. His love of aviation seems to be the only thing that gives him any sort of pleasure. He comes across the stolen wallet and pilot’s license of dentist Marguerite Muir (Sabine Azema, another Resnais regular). Intrigued by the pilot’s license, Georges seeks to make a romantic connection with Marguerite. He begins to obsessively leave her phone messages and write her letters. The police warn Georges to stop contacting the frightened Marguerite, and once he does, Marguerite then becomes obsessed with Georges. She too wants to make a romantic connection.
The story, based on Christian Galley’s 1996 novel L’incident, makes no sense on the surface. Why would Marguerite be attracted to a man who has stalked her and has scared her in into calling the police? Most rational people would not. But this is a film about irrational people. The audience is eager to see the interactions between these two seemingly strange souls and if making a connection is possible.
As the story progresses, so does the overall mood of the film. At the beginning of the film, both the characters are caught in the depressing monotony of their lives. The audience feels a sense of melancholy. As their relationship progresses, the confinement of their sad routines begins to shed and they begin to feel joy. The audience too feels that joy.
Resnais has much had much luck in directing his actors in great performances. He has already directed Dussollier and Azema in award-winning performances. Both actors are great in their roles, giving their characters the proper quirks and eccentricities to make them a truly odd couple.
Resnais has crafted a lyrical, lush, and strangely funny romance that engages the senses. His trademark kinetic energy, inventiveness, and unconventional narrative techniques are employed. Cinematographer Eric Gautier, whose work on this film earned him Cesar Award nomination, paints both grim and colorful images that are a feast for the eyes and key to the film’s evolving mood. The haunting score composed by Mark Snow, best known for The X-Files theme music, adds to the atmosphere. Wild Grass proves that a director can continue to be fresh and relevant well into the twilight of his career. | Justin Tucker



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