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Beyond my comprehension
on January 7, 2003
Visually this film is very attractive, with beautiful shots of a lakeside village and very atmospheric shots of alleyways and streets in rain and mist. But when it comes to the actions and motivations of the people in the film I lost patience. I like to believe in and identify with the characters, and in this film I found that impossible. There are four stories and I will mention only two - the two that seems to me the most bizarre and pointless.
The first story stars two extremely good-looking newcomers to the screen (Rossi Stuart & Ines Sastre). He stops his car to ask her the way to the nearest hotel; and, presumably because he is so good-looking, she gives him the name of her hotel. They see each other during the day. and when they retire to their rooms at night across the landing from each other, she lies awake waiting for the knock on the door that never comes. In the morning she leaves early without seeing him. It is two years before they see each other again, and this time their relationship progresses a little further - they get to be naked on the bed together.
But he behaves in a very odd way indeed; for some five minutes he runs his hands over her body within a millimetre of her skin, but without actually touching her. What she thinks is going on as she lies there feeling nothing, is anybody's guess. Then, after five minutes, still without having touched her, he gets up abruptly and without speaking a word, leaves. I ask you; is that the action of a sane man? You wonder why he bothered to take his clothes off if he intended to do so little. She, presumably feeling hurt and frustrated, rushes to the window to see him walking off into the distance. They give each other a feeble wave. End of story. John Malkovich's deep, lugubrious voice-over tells us he behaved in this way either because of folly or pride. Well it was certainly folly and certainly unbelievable.
In the other story, Malkovich's character is attracted to a young woman (Sophia Marceau) he sees in a shop window. He can't take his eyes off her and just stands there entranced. She responds in the same way. He goes into the shop and their mutual and silent fascination continues. I felt uncomfortable for both of them. Was something momentous about to happen? It would seem so and our interest is awakened, our expectations aroused. But no, we are just being led up the garden path.
He sits outside and eventually she joins him. She tells him only one thing about herself; that she has murdered her father by stabbing him twelve times. Malkovich's character shows no surprise and the fact seems irrelevant. They then go to her place and they have sex. But this is not the beginning of some deep and meaningful relationship. Oh no. When he's had his sex he's had enough, and, like the previous male protagonist, he just walks away. Another wretched piece of behaviour and another let down. The point? I wish I new.