CHANGE RIEN (CHANGE NOTHING)
(director: Pedro Costa; cinematographer: Pedro
Costa; editor: Patricia Saramago; cast: Jeanne
Burger, Herve Loos; Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating:
NR; producers: Sébastien
de Fonseca/Abel Ribeiro Chaves/Cédric Walter;
Cinema Guild; 2009-France-in French with English
"It's good aesthetic stuff."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa ("Colossal Youth"/"Ossos"/"In Vanda's Room") in this fascinating minimalist black-and-white music documentary, ably paints a mesmerizing portrait of French actress-turned-singer Jeanne Balibar as an intense chanteuse who has an unswerving devotion to her craft and whose reedy voice is used to advantage. The gist of the pic captures her as she records a moody rock album and is in rehearsal for Offenbach’s comic opera La Perichole, while accompanied by guitarist Rodolphe Burger and while an off-screen unnamed voice coach corrects her. The singer is photographed in chiaroscuro with mostly her face half-hidden in darkness or in a deep-focus long shot of her writhing slowly far off from the camera.
It's good aesthetic stuff
that tries to look into Balibar's soul as she sings and to
come up with a hidden story about her that has not
been exposed before. If anything, by paying such close
attention to her applying hard work to perfect her
craft, it gives you a sympathetic portrait of the
artist as she embraces the trials, the
open-mindedness, the discipline and repetitions it
takes to master the creative process. It's a film
where measured silences gain importance in conveying
meaning to the creative process as much as do the
lyrics, as it is with any good piece of music.
The film uses only footage
taken during musical rehearsals, recording sessions,
and live performances. As an actress Balibar worked in
films by noted
directors Olivier Assayas and Jacques Rivette. How
much you like the pic might depend on what you thought
of her performance. Since I was taken with it and
responded warmly to the intelligence of her songs and
of the avant-garde atmospheric way it was filmed, I
came away feeling drawn into its drone-like mood it
set and felt unexpectedly exhilarated even though the
concept was so sleep-inducing.
REVIEWED ON 8/25/2011 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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