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Anna, Joyce, Claude and Lucia are all students under the tutelage of Constance Dumas, a renowned film instructor. Lucia moves in with the other girls in a small house outside of Paris. Soon after, Lucia is attacked on the street outside her home and saved by a mysterious stranger. She soon finds the stranger is involved with all the girls and is hiding a dark secret inside the house.
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
The humming of train rails, followed by the sound of a passing train, accompanies the credit sequence of GANG OF FOUR. There will be many shots from inside and outside trains over the next 2½ hours. At one end of the line is a Parisian acting academy for young women; at the other end is a suburban house where four of the actresses live.
This world, populated almost entirely of women, is overseen by Constance Dumas (Bulle Ogier), the founder and sole instructor of the academy. At one time there were boys, as well, but they have long since been phased out. Now the theatre, painted entirely red like a giant womb, is "girls only." When men do enter the story, they arrive as interlopers and leave a path of destruction wherever they set foot.
With few exceptions, Rivette's films are about conspiracies. Or they are, rather, about the need for conspiracies, perhaps. A world without order is enough to drive one mad--and, as Rivette's CAHIERS colleague, Eric Rohmer, said in one film, "One can't think of nothing." In GANG OF FOUR, the conspiracy is never spelled out. We end the film knowing only what it may have been.
As for the four housemates, they are approached individually by a man who identifies himself differently each time. He could be a cop, he could be an arms dealer, or he could be a garden-variety grifter. It may not matter. He is a man, and as such he cannot grasp that the housemates are not subject to his idea of motive and action.Read more ›
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There appears to be a story behind the making of this film, however, I was and remain unfamiliar with it - Rivette seems to be making a political point about political machinations, cover-ups, and the jailing of innocents. This being a release from the mediocre crew at Image Entertainment, there are no onscreen extras and no printed essays to give the viewer any clue as to the exact intentions of Rivette. What is more (or less), the transfer is poor, with a grainy digital image and thin sound - given there are few close-ups, the bad image quality continually intrudes as the actors facial expressions are difficult to discern. * Rivette proposes an unusual scenario - an acting class for young women, taught by a reclusive but once celebrated actress - into this matriarchal nest sneaks a man, at once a liar, a manipulator, and some kind of organ of the state, possibly a policeman, possibly a less accountable agent. Gradually his schemes are revealed, and the action here is counterpointed by scenes from a play the acting students are rehearsing - or, to be more accurate, counterpoint seems to be the idea, but it made little palpable impact on me. * As most of the actresses are quite young, there is the feeling that you are viewing a student film, a first feature at any rate. Some scenes have a disarming naturalness, but others are forced, and those calling for strong emotion feel weak and artificial. And the technical aspects of the film, in particular set design and sound, are uniformly lacklustre. Rivette certainly disdains conventional cinematic methods, but it is unclear that his alternatives are worthwhile.Read more ›
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