Pas sur la bouche (Not on the Lips), 2003

Resnais continues in the direction of his affectionate re-adaptation of early twentieth century French burlesque comedies (most notably, Mélo) in Not on the Lips, a faithful (which unfortunately, includes all the stereotypical and derogatory gibes at Americans), accessibly entertaining, technically accomplished, but hollow musical adaptation of the 1925 operetta by André Barde and Maurice Yvain. The film follows the romantic entanglements of a privileged married woman, Gilberte Valandray (Sabine Azéma), and her eclectic circle of friends – her devoted sister Arlette (Isabelle Nanty), an unmarried, perennial guest named Faradel (Daniel Prévost), a young, post-cubist/post-dadaist artist (a tongue in cheek integrated movement called coocooism) named Charley (Jalil Lespert), and a lovestruck ingénue named Huguette (Audrey Tautou). Having concealed the trivial detail of a prior marriage to an American named Eric Thompson (Lambert Wilson) (whose brief union was apparently undone by his reluctance to kiss on the lips) from her husband Georges (Pierre Arditi), Gilberte is compelled to walk a delicate (and amusing) situational tightrope when Thompson becomes her husband’s international business partner. Although retaining the musicality and intrinsically operatic nature of Resnais cinema (as well as the baroque, hermetic, and rigid formalism of his early, seminal films Last Year at Marienbad and Muriel), the structural and narrative nouveau roman experimentation of his early cinema has been replaced by a seeming penchant to regress to the dated modernism of jazz-aged popular theater, creating an ebullient and accomplished, but slight composition.

© Acquarello 2004. All rights reserved.

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