Monday, July 14, 2008

La France

It’s the war to end all wars, which it didn’t. Her husband writes her to tell her that she will not see him again. She cuts her hair, binds her breasts, and wanders towards the front as a boy to look for him. She finds some soldiers who want nothing to do with her, but eventually she ends up tagging along with them. Every once and a while the men break into song, singing a sort of early 60s folk rock Europop on mostly makeshift instruments. The music is a complete anachronism, but that’s hardly the first sign that this isn’t your usual war film. Comparisons have been made to the execrable Umbrellas of Cherbourg, there being few French musicals to make it over the big water. But pay no attention to that comparison. Think, rather, of Eurydice in the underworld, and, as you must when a French actress bobs her hair, of Jeanne d’Arc, and the irony of entitling it La France when they are all deserters.

When I left the Anthology's old courtroom theater this evening, a fantastic sky was visible through the window, long streamers of cloud shot through with dark orange, a continuation of the movie's strange mood, which ends in the starry night.

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