January 2019 Capsules

The Mother and the Whore
Will go into this much, much further on the podcast, but it’s so difficult to quantify why this film functions as perhaps the epitome of what the French New Wave birthed. Is it that it simply exemplifies the principles of the Nouvelle Vague and pushes them to their logical conclusion? Or is it that Jean Eustache is just more attuned to his characters, more deft at sifting through the inherent effects of prior political associations and affiliations on present relationships? The answer probably lies to some degree in both, but perhaps most important of all is that the Nouvelle Vague — in many ways like Gilberte — acts as a phantom that shadows The Mother and the Whore without necessarily tangibly affecting it. What is apparent is the film’s openness, manifested in forms that register in the narrative as both positive (the indelibly etched relations) and negative (the frankness, the frequent crassness). All of these are inherent to Alexandre, Veronika, and Marie as they exist as people (and, it must be inferred, Eustache and his real-life lovers), and that lack of filter, that willingness to confront the morass of humanity head-on, is what feels so shattering about this monumental work.

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