Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974)

Directed by Jacques Rivette

A mysteriously linked pair of young women find their daily lives pre-empted by a strange boudoir melodrama that plays itself out in a hallucinatory parallel reality. An undisputed classic of the French New Wave, Jacques Rivette’s Celine and Julie Go Boating is a delightful movie about the spiritual journey of a pair of young women, told with a playful approach to the cinematic form. A masterpiece of cinematic creativity, Rivette, the same mind behind 1969’s L’amour fou, effortlessly draws the viewer into the whimsical world of the titular protagonists.

What a wonderfully strange (and strangely wonderful?) feature. I can't really say that I understood everything here, but there was an element of uncanniness that kept me engaged. This also makes La Belle Noiseuse even more of a mystery, too.


Remember Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead? Tom Stoppard took two of Hamlet’s minor characters, who might as well have been the same person, and built an adjunct world around them—but he constructed it shoddily, to imply that their existence consists mostly of waiting in the stage wings and guessing as to the particulars of their fate. Now imagine the same play without the benefit of a warhorse like Hamlet. Imagine that Stoppard makes up his own Hamlet, drawing on a few stories from Henry James, and then contains the action of this contrived fiction entirely within a single large house, outside of which life as usual seems to go on. This futzing gets us somewhere toward the middle of Rivette’s film, where the parallel narrative that was merely “bleeding through” before consumes the two main characters. They fight back, as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern did, with puns.

Joseph Jon Lanthier (Slant)