Program 9: Thème Je/The Camera I

It is unfortunate that some filmmakers still seem to confuse self-critical emotional nakedness with physical nakedness, and it is especially unexpected to see this in an artist of Françoise Romand’s caliber and artistic maturity (her documentary Mix-Up is a sublime and intelligent psychoanalytical discourse on identity in light of two middle-aged British women who were discovered to be switched at birth). Ostensibly a journey of self-discovery through her family and lovers (one can see echoes of Chantal Akerman’s Je, tu, il, elle in the mundane interactions between Romand and her lovers in her apartment), Thème Je is, nevertheless, thoughtful and occasionally engaging – specifically, in her dissection of family history (both paternal and maternal grandfathers, for instance, appeared in the earliest Lumière films, and there is perhaps something nebulous about her mother’s parentage and her relationship to her affable uncle) – but lapses into what seems to be an unnecessary amount of people in varying stages of undress (having illustrated the point of the physical display within the first ten minutes of the video, I found its continued inclusion for the rest of the film rather off-putting). Thème Je is a respectable effort that could benefit from the filmmaker’s return to form in terms of tapping into her innate storytelling ability to create an emotionally honest and equally intimate and fearless deconstruction of the true essence of self, instead of just an anatomic one.

© Acquarello 2004. All rights reserved.

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