Je t’aime je t’aime
DIRECTOR: Alain Resnais | WRITERS: Jacques Sternberg, Alain Resnais (uncredited) | CAST: Claude Rich, Olga Georges-Picot, Anouk Ferjac, Alain MacMoy, Vania Vilers, Ray Verhaeghe, Van Doude, Yves Kerboul | France
[I originally saw Je t’aime je t’aime on 24 April 2012 in a dreadful, out-of-focus print with muddy colors and horrendous subtitles yet found it so compelling that I rated it 7/10. On 10 June I saw it again, this time in a superior print with truly excellent subtitles and changed my rating to 9/10.]
24 APRIL: It’s probably not fair to judge Alain Resnais’ Je t’aime je t’aime from the spectacularly horrible copy I was stuck with, but the movie is so strong that it came through the fuzzy, out-of-focus murkiness. What I wouldn’t give to see a good print of it! A man who just barely survived a suicide attempt is recruited to undergo a time travel experiment that has been tried only once before on a mouse with no ill effects. He was sought out to undergo the experiment since he obviously wouldn’t mind terribly if something goes wrong.
They have to inject him with some kind of sedative, place him (with a control mouse) in a bizarre-looking chamber, and send him on his way to relive his memory of where he was precisely one year ago and for only one minute, after which he needs four minutes to come back fully to the present and be released from the chamber. At 4PM precisely one year ago he was surfacing from snorkeling on the Riviera, with his wife calling out to him from her towel on the beach. But then something goes wrong in the control room and he’s lost in his past; disjointed, nonchronological memories come back, mixed in with fantasies, replayed memories that are altered in various ways, all with his consciousness of his present. And all of his thoughts keep coming back to his troubled relationship with his wife whose death may or may not have happened and may or may not have led to his suicide attempt. Brilliant.
10 JUNE: About a month ago I wrote: “I quite recently saw Je t’aime je t’aime and loved it but rated it 7/10 largely because the print I saw was so terrible. I think if I were to see it again with a good print that was in focus and the colors weren’t so muddy and the picture as a whole wasn’t so dark I’d rate it much higher. I actually liked it more than Mon oncle d’Amérique as a movie.” What I wrote when I actually saw the movie (4/24/12) was: “It’s probably not fair to judge AlainResnais’ Je t’aime, je t’aime (1968) from the spectacularly horrible copy I was stuck with, but the movie is so strong that it came through the fuzzy, out-of-focus murkiness. What I wouldn’t give to see a good print of it! … I rate this a solid 7/10 even with the beyond dreadful print; it’s probably an 8 or 9.”
So. I got my hands on a great print and I’ve now watched Je t’aime je t’aime (note: no comma) again twice over the past 18 hours, three times if you count my playing selected scenes over and over with three different sets of subtitles to see which set was best (I found a winner by a mile for that). I do rate it 9/10. It is by any definition an extraordinary movie, and the only movie I can think of that it’s remotely like is La jetée (10/10). Why not 10/10? The science-y part of the science fiction is about on par with episodes of The Outer Limits. It wouldn’t normally bother me, but it’s cheesy. Maybe I’ll come round on that and bump it up to a 10.