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Welcome Back to the Wonderfully Confusing World of Alain Resnais,
This review is from: Wild Grass (DVD)
WILD GRASS (LES HERBES FOLLES) is based on the novel 'L'incident' by Christian Gailly, a writer who delights in taking simple incidents and pushing them to the extremes of climax beyond which few would ever dream. But Alain Resnais has taken this novel (adapted by Alex Reval and Laurent Herbiet), infused it with his own characteristic joy of playing reality versus imagination, memory versus illusion, and has come up with a film that will likely have a limited audience, but for those who delight in letting go and simply flying along with the imagination of a genius or two, then WILD GRASS will satisfy and more.
The story is a romance in the manner of a hesitation waltz. The story is narrated (by Edouard Baer) to give the opening aspects of the story momentum. Marguerite Muir (Sabine Azéma), a dentist and Spitfire pilot, has just purchased shoes and leaves the store when her handbag is snatched by a running thief. Later, the aging Georges Palet (André Dussollier) finds a red wallet in a parking lot, examines the contents, struggles with the burden of what to do, and finally turns the wallet in to the police, Bernard de Bordeaux (Mathieu Amalric) who takes his name in case there is a reward. Georges returns home to his wife Suzanne (Anne Consigny), who understands that Georges' strange behavior since his father's recent death may be enhanced by a new predicament: Georges is worried about the incident. He places telephone calls to Marguerite, visits her home, writers her letters - all of which confounds him as to his obsession with the woman he has never met. Georges family (he has two children) find his preoccupation strange and indeed Georges seems to have a dark secret from his past that causes him to have minor verbal explosions that seem wholly inappropriate. The incident becomes his life.
Meanwhile Marguerite shares her 'stalker' with her fellow dental assistant Josepha (Emmanuelle Devos) who attempts to manage Marguerite's change in behavior. Marguerite now is the one who needs to know more about Georges and stalks him. Ultimately Marguerite invites Georges to accompany her and her fellow pilots on a practice flight and a wildly entertaining practice flight game ensues: both Georges and Marguerite navigate the social protocols of giving and acknowledging appreciation and this bizarre catch as catch can romance comes to a Hollywood end - complete with flashbacks to old films etc. The audience is left to figure out just what has really happened - is this a wild love story on a collision course or is it simply a pair of fantasias played by two strange, emotionally isolated, and bored people, longing for life to perk up a bit?
Just as the title WILD GRASS suggests, little incidents (or invasions of wild grass into cracks and interstices quite by accident) can cause a butterfly effect and that is where the now 87 year old Resnais feels most at home. The irresistibly colorful cinematography is courtesy Eric Gautier and the perfect musical scoring is by Mark Snow. The danger in any kind of surrealism theme is that the audience becomes concerned that much of it doesn't make since. And so it is here, where even with the aid of the narrator there are many twists and turns that seem simply flights of fancy - and they probably are! Grady Harp, October 10