Thursday, September 17, 2009

300) Wild Grass (2009)

300) Wild Grass (2009) Dir: Alain Resnais Not Yet Released Date Seen: September 17, 2009 Rating: 3.75/5

Based on "The Accident," a novel by Christian Gailly, Alain Resnais' Wild Grass is a head-scratcher's delight, a berserk black comedy whose plot is buffeted every which-way at any given moment. Resnais seizes every opportunity to frustrate his protagonists desperate quest for closure after the eponymous event leaves them all out of sorts, to put it mildly. Despite the characters' best efforts to regain some semblance of emotional equilibrium--sometimes with spa treatments, sometimes with a favorite film from childhood--everyone ends up flailing their arms and instantly regretting their hilariously knee-jerk actions. You know the characters are being fucked with when the story ends with a line about cat munchies from a character we've never seen in the film until that point. It's a very mean film but also a very strange and exciting one.

Trying to describe Wild Grass's plot, which constantly meanders wherever Resnais' perverse heart desires, is pretty futile and almost certainly an inconsequential task. All you need to know is that Bobo fuddy-duddy Marguerite Muir (Sabine Azema) has her purse stolen and, purely by coincidence, unhinged middle-aged patriarch Georges Palet (Andre Dussolier) finds it. They each want to thank each other and form a bond that may or may not be amorous in nature. Then again, they unfortunately also share a tendency to ram their foots up their mouths and to Resnais' warped mind, that's just exactly why they'll spend as much time rebuffing each other's advances as they do trying to get closer.

If he needs an excuse, Resnais torments his characters because they don't seek so much as they demand balance from their lives. As funhouse caricatures of the kind of "headless" bourgies, they act like they have Trauma-induced Tourettes and can't stop themselves from spazzing out at a moment's notice and almost always in public. Their fear of being transplanted into new and uncomfortable settings dominates their post-"accident" lives and leads them to burble incoherently, leave strange notes for each other and then slash each others tires. Altercations are rehearsed a thousand times before they actually occur for fear that they'll come to the messy conclusion that they always do anyway. In thwarting his characters' desires at every turn, Resnais has made the film that Private Fears in Public Places should have been.

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