Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Thieves (Andre Techine)

I've seen four Techine films and been slowly won over, my enthusiasms gradually increasing. Did the films get better, or did I just learn how to watch them? I'm hoping it's the former, because I have no desire to revisit the first Techine film I saw (Rendez-vous). I thought it was a piece of junk. Then came Scene of the Crime, flawed as hell but worth seeing, and Wild Reeds, consistently good. Now I've seen Thieves, and it's almost great. What's going on here? Thieves excites me the most because it has the structure of a novel while remaining a film. The story begins in the middle, then moves backward and forward, showing the same event several times from multiple perspectives, which has the effect of shattering our assumptions about the characters' relationships to each other when more is revealed and deepening our responses to these characters in the scenes leading up to and beyond the events in the film's opening instead of just waiting for the plot to unfold. Point of view and narration are passed like a baton from scene to scene, much like those novels in which each chapter is narrated by a different character. I find this approach more challenging and rewarding than the mainstream Hollywood model of empathizing with one character while he/she takes on the world.

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