SOMETHING IN THE AIR written and directed by Olivier Assayas, with Clément Métayer, Lola Créton, Felix Armand and Carole Combes. A Mongrel Media release. 117 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (May 24). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
After the mammoth challenge that was Carlos, writer/director Olivier Assayas returns to the turmoil of 70s Europe for this semi-autobiographical look at a handful of French schoolmates who do their best to live revolutionary lives, only to watch the great socialist movement of 68 fragment into a dozen different - and equally impotent - factions.
The filmmaker's surrogate is Gilles (Clément Métayer), a watchful lad with dreams of communicating revolutionary ideas to the bourgeoisie through film. When a security guard is injured during an act of politically motivated vandalism, our hero and his friends flee to Italy, where they hang out with American hippies and Gilles gets close to true believer Christine (Lola Créton).
Assayas effectively recreates the banality of youthful politicking - there is nothing so irritating as a passionate young person who's only read one book - but like the supposedly revolutionary short films Gilles's friends make in Kabul, Something In The Air is meandering and unfocused. And at two hours, it feels crushingly long.
Maybe he should have called it You Had To Be There.