Friday, 21 January 2011

BBC Radio 4 Film Season Diary Day 5

Being familiar with the style of Peter Bradshaw, film critic of The Guardian, when I read his review of Blue Valentine I knew that even if I didn't find François Ozon's 5x2 to be a 'masterpiece' there would certainly be sufficient merit in it to hold my attention and engage my brain.

This is, in fact, what happened when I watched the film yesterday. The retrograde narrative deconstruction of a failed marriage, it examines five seminal episodes in the couple's life together. In a French manner the analysis of the situation is almost embedded in the dialogue of the honest couple and their friends. The film becomes a dispassionate critique of its own narrative.

This is actually the opposite of what happens in Blue Valentine, which is not intended to explain but to stimulate - breakup porn. I didn't get on with the dry intellectualising of 5x2 but it reminded me of a film perfectly pitched between the distinctly French pride even in personal catastrophe that it represents and the self-scuttling melodrama that fogs Blue Valentine. La Séparation, set in contemporary Paris, is the story of a pair of soixante-huitards whose long-cherished intellectual rigour comes into conflict with their genuine, untutored passion when one takes another lover. It's has nicely delivered set pieces in which the lovers try to rationalise their way out of the crisis offset with some ferociously violent outbursts that make Blue Valentine look like highschool children arguing over billets-doux. Most of this is down to the two leads, Isabelle Huppert and Daniel Auteuil, celebrated as amongst the finest actors in France for a quarter of century now. The trailer gives a good idea of the content of the film.

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