BAD COMPANY: THE FILMS OF JEAN EUSTACHE atCinematheque Ontario, from Friday (January 19) to January 28. 416-968-FILM. Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
the mother and the whore, jean Eustache's masterpiece of exhausting talk and sexual betrayal, sits in the 70s like a woolly mammoth frozen in the tundra.
Already out of its time when it came out seven years after the New Wave had receded back into the ocean of the cinema, it held the fort for the great post-New Wave directors of the 90s, Arnaud Desplechin and Olivier Assayas.
Three characters -- New Wave icons Jean-Pierre Léaud and Bernadette Lafont and newcomer Franĉoise Lebrun -- aimlessly move through the cafes and flats of the St-Germain-des-Prés district of Paris, just to the west of the Latin Quarter.
The women, one older and one younger, put up with the exasperating river of chatter that comes out of Léaud's intellectual layabout, until Lebrun, in one of the most astonishing monologues in the history of the cinema, levels everything around her.
Eustache had a brief career -- he committed suicide, leaving two completed features and a number of long short films (45 to 60 minutes) -- but is immortal because of this one film, an excoriating look at a generation left bereft by the failures of 68.
Cinematheque has his complete work, highlighted by two screenings of The Mother And The Whore (Friday, January 19, and Monday, January 22, 6:30 pm), which is one of those films that really has to be seen in a theatre -- this is what it feels like to be trapped in the middle of these lives.
Director John Waters once said that foreign movies should be advertised honestly: "It's three and a half hours long, it's black-and-white, it's French!"
If that's appealing, here's a movie for you. And you can't get it on video in Canada.JH