Revisiting the shifting perspective, stream of consciousness narrative of Providence, Alain Resnais’s Les Herbes folles is a more whimsical variation on the themes of subjective reality and causality. An early image of wild grass poking through cracks in the concrete provides a paradigm for the film’s seemingly organic tale of subverted expectation: a middle-aged man with time on his hands, Georges Palet (André Dussollier) recovers a wallet from a parking garage and immediately begins to devise scenarios on how he should approach the owner, a dentist named Marguerite Muir (Sabine Azéma) to return it. However, when his initial contact proves to be a terse, anticlimactic “thank you” telephone call in the middle of a family gathering – precipitated in part by his wife’s (Anne Consigny) suggestion that he bring the wallet to the local police station to arrange the actual return instead of handling it personally – Georges decides to re-initiate contact with the indifferent Marguerite, intrigued by her more adventurous hobby as an aviatrix of restored World War II planes that, in some small way, rekindles childhood memories of his late father. Resnais’ playful re-arrangement of Hollywood genres – romance, mystery, adventure (most notably, in reference to Paramount Studio’s The Bridges of Toko-Ri) – results in a remarkably fluid, wry, and idiosyncratic exploration of chance, connection, and noble pursuit.
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