Friday, February 12, 2010

Two English Girls

Les deux anglaises et le continent (Two English Girls), 1971
Dir: Francois Truffaut

Henri-Pierre Roché, who also wrote the novel Jules et Jim, is the source here for another love triangle, Euro-flavor heartbreaker. It's pretty hard to believe that this dude was involved in two love triangles in his life, but I suppose I'll give it to him. Instead of two guys and one girl, it is the other way around. To start off with, I'm going to say that I'm pretty sure I like this more than Jules et Jim (1962), probably because it never falls into the whimsical mood that it creates. It also is isn't as stuck in the New Wave form noodling of that movie either, which I liked. Sure there are some iris wipes (I'm actually pretty sure I love iris wipes) and the occasional Hitchcock moment, but it never seems too intrusive. The voice-over, at least the way Truffaut uses it, I have some problems with. When it sounds like text being lifted directly from the book for exposition, I get turned off a little. More telling, and not showing. When it's letter writing and such, thoughts in characters heads, it's not so bad. The great thing about the film is that our protagonist, Cluade (J-P Leaud), plays a part that you are never quite sure how to feel about. After hurting his leg and meeting the daughter, Anne (Kika Markham), of his mother's English friend, he goes to spend a summer in Wales with that family. Anne tries to get him together with her sister Muriel (Stacey Tendeter), but there is a lot of puppy love hesitation. When Claude finally professes his love for Muriel, but she rebuffs him, though she clearly is fooling herself. Once the romance is known to the mother, some immediate measures are taken to try and temper it. So Claude heads back to Paris to run his father's estate and be an art dealer or something, and his life soon turns into something much different than the one he had while playing games with the two sisters in Wales. Art dealer, girls, his own place: yeah, Muriel is pushed aside. And one of those girls happens to be Anne, who is in Paris studying art. If the sympathies of the first part of the first part of the film are very much with Claude, the second part is about the two women. Anne becomes a liberal Eruo art babe with many lovers, while Muriel becomes a teacher in Wales who decides not to marry. Both of these women still remain very linked to Claude, and the film moves into the sad, passing-of time lapse that sets up the ending. There is an epilogue too, which, to my surprise, I don't think I hated. In fact, it is very ambiguous, and it finds Claude in a place he probably should be, which is somewhere where we really don't know how we're supposed to feel for him, considering all the things he has done. There's no car explosion suicide at the end either.


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