7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
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
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
There is a fair amount of sheer whimsy in the film--a characteristic Nouvelle Vague feature that sometimes works, coming across as fresh and unexpected, and sometimes sort of falls flat, seeming merely throwaway, unserious.
But the film as a whole I found fascinating and wonderfully suggestive, particularly its guiding metaphor. This compares wild grass--uncultivated, uncared for, appearing in and around things of more usefulness (a paradigm case insisted upon by the film's opening credits is that of grass growing in cracks of pavement and tarmac)--to stray relationships, equally unplanned and uncultivated, that can sprout up in the cracks of more ordered segments of life, out of seemingly trivial encounters.
The central characters in Herbes Folles are not friends, not business acquaintances, not neighbors, not lovers (even Truffaut's famous menage a trois in Jules et Jim has more solid substance than what Resnais offers up here, though clearly we're dealing with similar inspirations and approaches)--their relationship has no rationale, no name, so it has no rules or accepted conventions, either. This makes it fraught, susceptible to endless hesitations and uncertainties, second guessings and regrets--in fact its very pointlessness renders it curiously intense, there being no established roles available to fall back into in case of missteps, the way an unsteady acrobat can drop into a net.
In this respect, the film is actually about freshness and unexpectedness: these aren't just inherited tics of a French film school. I found Resnais here to be thought-provoking in the same way that Dostoevsky is thought-provoking: people and their relationships are shown as fundamentally unpredictable, mysterious even to themselves.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Alain Resnais' Wild Grass is one of those cases where I liked the film-making but didn't care as much for the film. Resnais' playful love of the possibilities of cinema shines through, but the film never really makes enough of its subversion of a standard romantic comedy setup as Andre Dussolier discovers Sabine Azema's stolen wallet and becomes increasingly obsessed with her until he goes too far and is warned off by the police - only for her to find herself missing the attention and start to become obsessed with him. The characters behave with pleasing irrationality just as they tend to do in the rather messy real world, and both have their share of flaws. Dussolier in particular may or may not have a dark criminal past (or it may simply be an example of his compulsive need to turn his life into a tragedy to overcome), but the details are left deliberately vague. Yet for all the stylistic polish and panache it still feels not fully formed. Although an adaptation of Christian Gailly's L'Incident, it's the kind of idea you'd expect his On Connait la Chanson writers Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri to come up with, and you can't help suspecting they'd have found much more in the material than Resnais does. Both leads have been better in their previous pairings, with Dussolier faring best here by virtue of having the most layered character, but Anne Consigny shines in the thankless role of his wife and Mathieu Amalric has a nice supporting role as a policeman, briefly forming half of a comic double-act with Michel Vuillermoz in one scene. While it's never really as good as it could have been, it's certainly no chore to sit through, and it does throw in one of the most memorable non-sequiter endings in years as a brief postscript to its already off the beaten track Biggles Flies Undone climax.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Roland E. Zwick
- Published on Amazon.com
By turns cerebral, thought-provoking, pretentious and off-putting, "Wild Grass" is a tale of two strangers who become inexplicably obsessed with one another.
Adapted by Alex Reval and Laurent Herbiet from the novel "L'Incident" by Christian Gailly, and directed by the legendary French New Waver Alain Resnais, "Wild Grass" focuses on what happens after Georges (Andrei Dussollier), a middle-aged married man who's an aviation aficionado and all-around nut-case, finds a stolen wallet belonging to Marguerite Muir (Sabine Azema), a frizzy-haired (could it be the "wild grass" of the title?) red-headed dentist who flies propeller planes in her spare time. Without even knowing the woman, Georges finds himself inexorably drawn to her, and he'll stop at nothing to insinuate himself into her life. In turn, Marguerite, a single woman who appears to have been boycotting beauty salons her whole life, develops mixed feelings for this man who has essentially become a stalker and who has even gone so far as to slash the tires on her car. And before you know it, Marguerite has become so unstrung and neurotic in her own right that she's sleeping in the cockpit of her plane and has become such a sadist with the dental drill that she would give Dr. Christian Szell - or the Marquis de Sade, for that matter - a run for his money in a pain-inflicting sweepstakes.
The off-putting nature of the film comes from the fact that the characters often feel more like the product of a writer's imagination than organic outgrowths from the real world. Their motivations and responses are almost maddeningly preposterous and unclear at times and, as a consequence, our patience with their behavior wears decidedly thin after awhile. There are other distractions as well, such as Marguerite's extraordinarily unmanaged Little Orphan Annie coiffure (we find ourselves wanting to cry out, "Why don't you run a damn comb through that thing?") and the self-conscious cinephilia that is oh-so-typical of French filmmakers.
On the positive side, Resnais manages to achieve a hypnotic rhythm with his fluidly flowing tracking shots, and there are definitely some elements of style and theme from some of Resnais' bona fide classics, like "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" and "Last Year at Marienbad," running through this work (the nature of intimacy between strangers and near-strangers being just one of the issues touched upon in all three films).
However, these few virtues are not enough to overcome the unlikable nature of the storyline and the two loony and self-absorbed folk who serve as its protagonists. So I guess it's only appropriate that the movie culminate in a spectacularly stupid and laughable into-the-wild-blue-yonder finale that literally, as well as figuratively, crashes and burns on its way to that much delayed but highly appreciated "fin," signaling the end of our ordeal. A fond farewell to all around.
J. A. Eyon
- Published on Amazon.com
with so many unexpected angles and blocking - its obvious that no one directs like Alain Resnais - his name in the credits is the signal for a visual feast - the result of his directorial choices - along with the stunning use of color and lighting - for which - equal shares of credit go to cinematographer Eric Gautier and production designer Jacques Saulnier - and many other behind the sceners
and i mustnt forget how he brings out the best in his actors - here - with half of his old - in both senses of the word - team - Sabine Azéma and André Dussollier
as usual - the story is laid back and airy - tho this is probably less logically constructed then other Resnais films that i have seen - yet he manages to blend the surreal nature of the story with a down to earth quality
enjoy the sunshine lushness - and the quirky performances - even tho the unfolding events may ultimately frustrate you