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Friday, November 2, 2012

SOMETHING IN THE AIR

By D.E.Levine

A NYFF50 Selection

Writer/Director Olivier Assayas creates a look and feel of Paris 1971 in this film.  Here, youthful revolutionaries (who appear to be mostly middle and upper class youth) are seeking meaning and hoping to make a difference through their own radicalism.

The central character appears to be Gilles (Clement Metayer), an aspiring painter and filmmaker who would appear to be an autobiographical character for Assayas.  Gilles sells underground newspapers outside of his school, attends meeting where he hotly debates challenging police policies, and prints and distributes flyers and posters that advocate anti-establishment causes.

When Gilles, Christine and friends conduct a graffiti attack on the school, it looks as though one of them will face serious legal problems.  Following that, when a Molotov cocktail attack on the security guard post leaves a man seriously injured, the group decides to disperse and leave town for the summer.

Gilles, Christine and Alain (Felix Arnard) head for Italy where they meet an American girl, Leslie (India Solvar Menuez),  They continue to participate in creative and revolutionary activities while indulging in drugs, marijuana and swapping sexual partners.

Gilles and Christine fall in with a group of filmmakers and eventually disillusioned, Gilles leaves Christine and the filmmakers to return to Paris and work in his father's traditional movie production business.

In the end, Gilles path may disappoint some viewers because it is something of a compromised of his revolutionary ideals.  However, it's only when he chooses this path that Gilles actually makes a decision instead of just meandering through "trendy" ideals.

While Assayas grew up during this era and is attentive to detail, combining those with a wonderful musical score, the characters are never are fully believable because while they claim to be idealistic militants the reality is that they are the privileged children of the upper class who spend a lot of time in drug induced hazes and appear to be wandering endlessly through life with their parents providing a steady stream of money with which to keep them clothed, sheltered and fed.