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QFF 2015: Jealousy

Self exposed borders
A lack in one’s finish
Nothing of the human body
Let farewell your gaze

As an introduction to the films of Philippe Garrel, Jealousy seems like a rather light film from a denoted master of French cinema. Yet its deceptive simplicity could be why his repute among cinephiles has only been growing in recent years. A delicate 77-minute traipse through Paris in which a theatre actor Louis (Louis Garrel) leaves one woman (Clothilde - Rebecca Convenant) for another (Claudia, played by Anna Mouglalis) and, between farewells, is also trying to be a father to his young daughter.

Under two chapter headings, “I guarded Angels” and “sparks in a powder-keg”, we are left to observe relationships on their last legs, or at least in transition. Small snippets cut together find Louis and Claudia in love before losing each other to neighbouring infidelities as well as their differing ideas of work (both are struggling actors) and life.

Shot in gorgeous black and white, the film strikes as one trying to enjoy to the fullest small moments of enchantment and connection it knows will not last. This is most clear in its arrestingly sweet montage sequences wherein Louis, his daughter and Claudia waltz through Parisian parks. Underlining and over-exposing such moments – especially as it becomes more melancholy in its second half – is the music, pop rock and then just pop, played as if in an attempt to suspend such moments in time forever.

Even as the general scheme of events is believable, the momentum strains believability at times, particularly with an act by Louis after Claudia leaves him. Though the composition and the actor’s resigned movement is brilliant, he is recovered after one scene (in keeping, the film ends before bringing it up), the picture confuses brevity with clarity. Thankfully however, Garrel and cinematographer Willy Kuran’s camera, forever returning to positions, locations, movements and moments familiar in a new way, leaves viewers breathless with the thought that, while things may not linger or stay as long as we’d like them to, they can and do return and are waiting to be discovered anew. And no more encouraging a thought could one take from an introduction to a filmmaker who, with Jealousy’s so brief a dalliance in the lives of its characters, compels one to further hours of investigation.

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