Les herbes folles | Wild Grass
DIRECTOR: Alain Resnais | WRITERS: Laurent Herbiet, Alain Resnais | CAST: Sabine Azéma, André Dussollier, Anne Consigny, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric | France
I guess I should start by pointing out that Alain Resnais has long been one of my favorite directors, but the most recent of his films that I’d seen until now was Mon oncle d’Amérique from 1980. Well, now I’ve seen Les herbes folles from 2009, almost 30 years later. It is godawful. Like the even worse Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Les herbes folles is a badly contrived farce about how the world operates by kooky coincidences — in Jeff it’s all about men named Kevin; here’s it’s just one damn thing leading to another — that manages to be deadly unfunny, smarmy (stop it with the geeky film references crap already), and stupid and pretentious all at once. In Les herbes folles we’re shown the wacky infatuation that develops between too zany characters — a kooky middle-aged dentist with a Bozo the Clown hairdo and crinkly Actress Voice who in her spare time flies a World War II-era Spitfire plane that she got some buddies (who are they? we never find out) to refurbish for her which they do because they love her so much, and a middle-aged something or other who initially stalks her until she stalks him back and…oh, it’s horrible. And everyone in the movie is awful, but especially awful is Resnais’ wife Sabine Azéma as the flying dentist. She is insufferable. I take it back about everyone being awful: Mathieu Amalric has a few scenes as a cop who gets drawn into the wackiness and he’s quite good despite the material he was given to play. As if the action on screen weren’t irritating enough by itself it’s accompanied by an annoying Jazz Lite score of the Claude Bolling variety that just won’t stop. The only thing that keeps me from completely dismissing the movie as hopelessly dreadful is that it’s actually quite well made, and the cinematography and editing are both absolutely first rate. I’d suggest reading J. Hoberman‘s review of the movie if you want to know more. I agree with all of what he says about Les herbes folles — I think I dislike Sabine Azéma even more than he does — but I disagree with him when it comes to Resnais’ other films.