Muriel ou Le temps d’un retour
DIRECTOR: Alain Resnais | WRITER: Jean Cayrol | CAST: Delphine Seyrig, Jean-Pierre Kérien, Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée, Nita Klein | France
I knew going into it that Muriel ou Le temps d’un retour was going to be a difficult film to wrap my mind around mostly because it’s Alain Resnais, and early Resnais at that. And so it proved to be. That said, it’s a masterpiece even though I still don’t quite have a firm grasp of it after spending a couple of days with it. (Maybe I should read what Roger Ebert has to say about it? Yeah, right.)
Resnais explores time and memory again, here with a shattered and elliptical, jumpy, nervous narrative — make that narratives since more than one story is being told. There are wild jump cuts and juxtapositions of scenes, images, snatches of dialogue over disconnected visuals, street scenes, old film footage, photographs, jotted notes, and through it all the camera is stationary. And yet you’re never totally at sea and you begin to feel your way through the film as unsettled and unsettling as it is. Muriel is gorgeously shot in over-saturated color with sound editing equally as jumpy and unsettling as the visuals.
Hans Werner Henze’s score is exceptional and exceptionally well performed (Rita Streich is great). And yet…there’s something Agatha Christie-tying-up-the-loose-ends-because-a-mystery-needs-to-be-solved-doesn’t-it? about the end that irked me. Maybe I’ll get over that. Maybe not.