Film Friday: Strange love, time travel and domestic drama

Our critics turn their gaze to acclaimed documentary The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, time-travelling French rom-com Camille redouble and tense psychodrama À perdre la raison.


The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

A full year after its premiere at FNC (and theatrical release just about everywhere else in the world), Marie Losier’s doc has a proper release here in Montreal. (This town truly has a perplexingly complicated relationship to theatrical release dates, but I digress). For those who somehow missed the conspicuous buzz, the film portrays the relationship between aging shock-art provocateur Genesis P-Orridge (founder of the pioneering industrial bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV) and his wife, performance artist/dominatrix Lady Jaye Breyer.

With this kind of pedigree, to call them an unorthodox couple would be redundant, but they took things a considerable step further when they began a project of each getting surgery so they would resemble each other more, essentially trying to fuse themselves into a single being in the name of art and love.

While this could have easily been turned into a reality-style freak show in lesser hands, Losier instead weaves a sympathetic and moving portrait. Relying heavily on a P-Orridge voice-over, but never once resorting to talking-heads interviews, the doc successfully walks a line between innovation and familiarity that’s quite appropriate to its subjects, who on one hand are operating at the furthest fringes of human behaviour, but on the other hand come across as the sweetest of love stories. At one point Lady Jaye is quoted: “I don’t care about any of that art shit, I just want to be remembered as one of the great love affairs of all time!” An ambitious goal, but Losier’s thoughtful doc comes pretty damn close to accomplishing just that. (MF)


Camille redouble (Camille Rewinds)

I don’t like comparing European movies to their Hollywood counterparts, but I just can’t help it with Camille redouble, the story of a 47-year-old woman who, following New Year’s Eve 2008, wakes up in her parents’ apartment in the early 1980s. A reversed 13 Going on 30, anyone? Camille redouble is also a love note to Francis Ford Coppola’s 1986 rom-com Peggy Sue Got Married, which was about a woman (Kathleen Turner) who faints at her high school reunion only to wake up reliving her pre-graduation.

Noémie Lvovsky (Les Adieux à la Reine, Les Sentiments) wrote, directed, and stars as Camille, a not very successful actress in her early 40s who’s in the middle of divorcing her high school sweetheart Éric (Samir Guesmi). Distressed when she wakes up in 1984, she’s committed to push him away when she re-meets him in high school, but of course, the romantic comedy rule says that they will fall in love nevertheless, because it was “meant to be” or because it has already happened. The movie essentially consists of Camille’s efforts to change her life. However, if she changes everything, she may never get to meet her daughter.

Camille redouble is a family movie, but only in the sense that it lacks the emotional depth that would classify it as a serious film. It’s enjoyable, but not memorable, although Lvovsky does a fine job acting, directing and writing. It’s just too predictable, but I guess there’s just so much rewinding to old tricks that one can do. (RP)


À perdre la raison (Our Children)

Tahar Rahim and Niels Arestrup, who starred in 2009’s awesome Un prophète, reunite in this domestic drama from writer/director Joachim Lafosse. Rahim plays a Moroccan immigrant who lives with a rich, old doctor (Arestrup) who adopted him to bring him to France as a young man. Émilie Dequenne (who played the title role in the Dardenne brothers’ Rosetta many moons ago) is Rahim’s fiancée, who at first is game with the two men’s unusual closeness, but grows increasingly uncomfortable as the doctor imposes his will on the couple’s life.

Lafosse tells the story with an unusual sense of dramatic pacing: at least once in the film, several years are skipped over in minutes, while other scenes draw out drama in uncomfortably awkward real time. He’s also a subtle director, not prone to spelling things out; in any given scene, you have to stay alert to figure out who knows what, who’s telling the truth and what info you yourself have to catch up on. Although the characters would be called underdeveloped by Hollywood standards, it’s all part of Lafosse’s guessing game with the viewer, and the performances are strong all around, especially from Dequenne.

The film eventually turns into a bracing psychological drama, but it takes its time getting there. If you can stick with Lafosse’s unorthodox approach, you’ll be rewarded (if that’s the right word) with a true shocker of an ending. (MF) ■

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