Mon 19 Oct 2015
I am fascinated by Leos Carax. In more than 30 years he made just a handful of long films, but what films these are. Each of them reminds me when I get to see them why I love and I am fascinated by cinema, and what an art film making can be under the hands of a director who knows the secrets and ingredients of turning each film, and each scene in his films in something different, something that charms, shocks, can be enjoyable or repulsive, but cannot leave us indifferent.
Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood is the literal translation) will be 30 years old next year. Yet it is not only as fresh as it was made yesterday, but it also has the quality that will make it relevant 30, 60, and 90 years from now (I do not make bets about future that extend between one century ). It’s a gangster story in the
French tradition, Melville’s movies come to mind immediately, and the fact that some of the bad guys are American is actually also a French noir films tradition. Although the making of the film is closer to David Lynch’s peak period, Mauvais Sang precludes the best of what Tarantino will make 10 or 15 years later. I actually have almost no doubt that both Lynch and Tarantino saw this film several times and were deeply inspired by it. It is however more – it is a double love story, or two love stories which are sensitive and beautifully told. And then, the final scene makes – so it seems to me – a reverence to ‘Casablanca’.
What gives such quality to Mauvais Sang? First, the actors. Michel Piccoli- at the edge of seniority, playing the gangster – combinator whose combines not always succeed best. Breathtakingly beautiful and young Juliette Binoche in one of her first major roles. And, of course, Denis Lavant, Caras’s best acting asset ever. Then the cinematography. I do not know how much we owe to Caras and how much to the director of cinematography Jean-Yves Escoffier but almost each shot is a piece of art, and the colors combinations are sublime and uniquely expressive – just watch the repeated combinations of blue, white and red! There are the ingredients, but the ultimate merit belongs without doubt to Leos Carax, a master chef of the French cinema.