Thursday, 4 November 2010

Wild Grass / Les herbes folles (DVD Review)

Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Alain Resnais (Hiroshima mon amour, Last Year at Marienbad, On connaît la chanson)
Cast: Sabine Azéma, André Dussollier, Anne Consigny, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric
France/Italy, 2010

Reason to see: Quirky trailer and general acclaim

Wild Grass / Les herbes folles uses the idea of a stolen purse as the impetus of a chance encounter, and hearing this idea I was fascinated by the possibilities that could surround the encounter, the people it involved, where it could lead their lives and their futures. The players here are Sabine Azéma as dentist and lost purse lady Marguerite Muir and André Dussollier as Georges Palet, the wallet finder. I found it hard to get a sense of who either Marguerite and André were, their characters felt very complicated yet elusive. Marguerite was quite the mystery as she was rather stoic in gesture the majority of the time but every once in a while had such a joie de vivre it threw me completely off kilter. André is so completely methodical and guarded that I kept making up elaborate back stories up for his behaviour and thought processes, but none of them ended up hitting (albeit some were very far fetched).

But let's roll it back a bit to a chance circumstance idea, because it's an interesting place to be to think about all the possibilities an encounter could manifest into. That's what Wild Grass / Les herbes folles felt like to me. The continual 'What if..." situation. And several things could fill in the ..., like "What if I...", "What if she...", "What if we....", that permeated the imagination of both parties involved. But before you get thinking it's all whimsical, reign it it. There is whimsy but it's of a darker tone than is usually associated with the word.

The strangest thing about the film though, is this elusiveness of the ideas and the distancing of the characters did kept me quite engaged, but over time the wondering kept me occupied for way too much of the film. At first, I was charmed by the whimsical and aloof tone and went with the flow thinking things would become clearer over time. But it didn't feel like clarity was the goal here, or it if was I missed it. I'll admit that it's rare for me to have this experience watching a film, but I really feel like I missed it. I kept thinking there would be a reveal, or explanation, or magical realism, or ... something. But if there was, I missed it. Or, it wasn't there - which would be an interesting choice. Either way, it left me feeling like I wanted to put my hands up in the air and ask for clarification.

Warnings: Medical/dental content.

Wild Grass is available on DVD as of November 2, 2010. Check it out over at &

Shannon's Overall View:
I didn't love it
I'll likely watch it another time to see if something clicks
I'd recommend it as a quirky elusive drama

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010

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