EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|VISAGE (FACE) (director/writer: Tsai Ming-Liang; cinematographer: Pen-jung Liao; editor: Jacques Comets; music: Jean-Claude Petit; cast: Lee Kang-Sheng (Hsaio-Kang), Lu Yi-Ching (Kang's mother), Laetitia Casta (The Star of Salome), Jean-Pierre Leaud (Antoine/King Herod), Fanny Ardant (Producer/Queen Herodas), Laetitia Casta (Salome), Nathalie Baye (Nathalie), Jeanne Moreau (Jeanne), Lu Yi-Ching (Director's elderly mother); Runtime: 138; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Vincent Wang/Jacques Bidou/Tsai Ming-Liang/Marianne Dumoulin; Arte Editions-PAL format; 2009-France/Taiwan/Netherlands/Belgium-in French and Mandarin and English, with English subtitles when appropriate)|
|"Too obscure for my taste."
by Dennis Schwartz
Malaysian-born Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-Liang's
("Goodbye, Dragon Inn"/"the Hole"/"The River")
somewhat strange tribute to Francois Truffaut. Its
Taiwanese director Hsaio-Kang (Lee Kang-sheng), playing the alter ego part of
a perplexed Tsai Ming-Liang, going to the Louvre to
shoot a movie about the biblical character Salome,
assisted by such Truffaut veterans as Fanny Ardant
playing Queen Herodas and Jean-Pierre Leaud playing
King Herod. In one stunning scene Laetitia Casta, who plays
Salome, is lip-synching Chinese ballads in a snowy
grief-stricken Tsai during the shoot has to deal with
the real-life death of his beloved elderly mother (Lu Yi-Ching) due to cancer, and also
that his actors are comically lost for a time in the Louvre’s
Visage was commissioned by the Louvre. It's a project in which the museum is giving access to its premises to a group of directors and partially funding the movies they film there.
Though it has a few
colorful striking visuals and imaginative moments,
this one was too obscure for my taste and too
underwhelming in its plotless narrative. It
doesn't seem to have much to say about anything other
than personal recollections of the director, as it
seems to be more suited as a dreamlike film telling
about the filming of Salome and alternating those
scenes with weird dream sequences and energetic
musical numbers. One of the wackiest scenes is when
Truffaut’s former three
muses, Jeanne Moreau, Nathalie Baye and Fanny Ardant,
are alone at a huge dining hall table in the place
once occupied by Napoleon III and while waiting for
the 17 invited guests to show the trio hums the theme
song from Truffaut’s 1962 Jules and Jim. Scenes like
that were curiously odd, but didn't have enough heft
to completely win me over to this experimental film.
Face was an official selection at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 4/6/2013 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ