Stanley Kauffmann on Films
In 1990, when I saw a documentary about the Guarneri Quartet, I concluded that all of us who are not members of a quartet have wasted our lives. The film made it seem that playing in a quartet is the most continually progressive and congenial way to spend a life in art. At last comes another film about a quartet, this time fictional. Musically, it isn’t in a class with the documentary, but it investigates other aspects that result from their long union.
Three extraordinary small films.
The Other Son Dangerous Liaisons Barrymore THE MONTAGUE-CAPULET pattern has been used a lot lately, fitting easily the Middle East situation. The girl is Israeli, the boy Arab, or vice versa. Now, in The Other Son, it is altered. Two young men, seemingly Israeli and Arab, are discovered to be brothers, victims of a mistake in a hospital, a Jewish one. Once again racial difference roars. The French director, Lorraine Levy, aided by Nathalie Saugeon and Noam Fitoussi, does not use her variation on this basic split as a trick for funny or saccharine effects.
Meet the Fokkens Mosquita y Mari Dreams of a Life Rob Schröder and Gabrielle Provaas, Dutch film-makers, are lucky. They have found what can only be called a knockout subject for a documentary—identical twin sisters, now in their seventies, who have spent their lives as prostitutes in Amsterdam. The sisters even have a name that, for Anglophone viewers, has a special edge: the picture is called Meet the Fokkens.
Unforgivable Last Ride ANDRÈ TÈCHINÈ , THE FRENCH director known for his deft probing of dark human recesses, has come up with a sparkler Unforgivable, which sets out as an account of unusuallives, finishes as a portrait of a society—one that lives between the conventional and the openly low. It accomplishes all this while it amuses and moves us. The screenplay, by Téchiné and Mehdi Ben Attia, from a novel by Philippe Djian, changed the novel’s setting on the French coast to Venice.
The Well Digger’s Daughter Farewell, My Queen Gypsy THAT ENDEARING AND ENDURING French actor Daniel Auteuil, who was born in 1950, whose first film was in 1974, and who has since then made several dozen, has had an unusual idea. He has chosen to re-make a film that was famous before he was born and to make his directing debut with it. Also, we might say, his second acting debut.
Oslo, August 31st tells the story of Anders, a thirty-four-year-old Norwegian who has been a patient in a drug rehabilitation center near the city, is now clean, and is given permission to visit the city for one day for a job interview. The screenplay, by the director Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt, is distantly derived from a French novel by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (from which Louis Malle’s