Thursday, 4 February 2010

Florence Miailhe "Au premier dimanche d'août" (A Summer Night Rendez-vous - 2000)

It was in November 2007 that I wrote about Florence Miailhe's Les Oiseaux Blancs Les Oiseaux Noirs. Today, and rather late, is the turn of her Au premier dimanche d'août, a truly beautiful piece of work. On a warm night in August the village folk gather for the carnival. The bunting is out, the crowds converge, dancing begins. The village boys ask and are refused dances, taking solace at the bar, very young girls parade in their party frocks, older girls dance with increasing confidence, boys wrestle, lovers love, adults relive their youth, and the boys emerge from the bar. We are cast in the role of onlookers, anonymous as we pass through the throng. Innocent child at play, surreptitious squeeze on thigh from lover to lover, would-be mating dogs separated, boy playing with ball tricked by his friends, families dancing together, lovers in the trees. A magical evening is conveyed magically by a director whose art is grounded in her use of paint, her stylised artwork, economical portrayal of character and movement, total command of light and colour, vivid or subtle. She has a rare eye for detail too as the evening is brought vividly to life. Sound is used evocatively, snatches of conversation never enough to assimilate and music by Denis Colin that completely satisfies, as does a marvellous film, that transports one into summer. Most certainly a contender for my films of the year. The ending is particularly delightful as the villagers are stylishly placed in a timeless world, not quite Dionysian but adjacent. Gorgeous. Florence is an experienced teacher as well as artist. Since 2000 she has taught at École nationale supérieure des arts.

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