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Overall Rating
2.81

Awesome: 6.25%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 6.25%
Total Crap: 37.5%

2 reviews, 4 user ratings


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Time Regained
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Cliffs' Notes aren't going to cut it."
1 stars

To be quite honest, I will never be able to regain the time I lost with “Time Regained.” It’s a movie, or maybe a novel, full of wondrous ideas, but the director and co-writer Raoul Ruiz turns the adaptation of Marcel Proust’s novel of the same name (from the series “In Search of Lost Time”) into an arcane mess, that, without the bare help of the press kit, and even still with it –something the audience will not have access to—is an indecipherable mess.

What I had read about “Time Regained” prior to seeing it, was a brief synopsis (not from the pressbook of information, either). To paraphrase, it was about author Marcel Proust, nearing his death, and the subsequent blending of those people around him into those of his fictional characters. That sounded interesting. But the first question was, is Proust, Proust in his book, or is this Ruiz and co-writer Gilles Taurand’s stylistic choice to incorporate him? Proust is Proust, or actually The Narrator (Marcello Mazzarella). To any outsider who has never read the “In Search of Lost Time” series, you are out of luck. There is simply no explanation of who is really who, or a clear explanation or outline of what is going on. The pressbook tells me a lot about Proust, and even includes a glossary of the players. This is unfair. I did not read it before the movie, and those who are going to pay to see it won’t have it available at all.

As Proust is dying, he begins to interchangeably go from place to place, and he knows many people in many places (“A real social butterfly”). But we’re never able to distinguish one from the next –almost an unintentional, but frustratingly twist on “eXistenZ.” Everything is so damned convoluted and non-sensical that after awhile you just become despondent. A lot of “Time Regained” and Proust seem to question recognition and who we are. Characters in the movie, and especially near the end, turn up and grab him, asking if he remembers or recognizes who they are (forget if we don’t).

The idea of blending reality with fiction, especially that created by the person who is becoming delusion, is a fascinating idea. But with “Time Regained,” we are given no points of reference, no start, and no hints. It’s a mess. And the 160-minute running time was no help. I was ready to walk out near the 90-minute mark, but being as naïve as I am and hoping that there might be some explanation ahead, I stuck it out. To no avail. “Time Regained” alienates itself from its audience –I was still even lost in the confounding web of characters dossiers. It’s jam-packed with inscrutability. The one clear thing about “Time Regained” is that it’s clearly ambiguous. It’s dizzying to stand at the center of this and not know heads from tails. (I am unsure of “Remembrance of Things Past” and “In Search of Lost Time” are even the same series –the kit is constantly contradicting itself.)

There were some good performances, whatever their consequence, I don’t know, but I enjoyed mainly watching Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Bèart, and John Malkovich. It’s good to see an American actor so eagerly participate in foreign projects. Malkovich’s mouthing and delivery of the French was very precise and diligent. Mazzarella was also okay, but moreso forgettable and overlookable. He reminded me of Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau.

Ruiz tried a surrealistic approach that overestimates his audience. It’s too complicated. He does some interesting experiments with movement, though. In a room, he takes stationary objects –whether it be tables, desks, racks, people seated at concert—and rolls them around as the camera gracefully dodges and maneuvers around it. The editing is too choppy (the subtitles get cut off on several occasions) and the cinematography is a thick custard yellow.

Cliffs’ Notes aren’t going to help you with this one.

Final Verdict: F+. (If that's possible.)

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4648&reviewer=172
originally posted: 11/28/00 21:55:50
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/01/13 PAUL SHORTT ELEGANT, WELL MADE MOOD DREAM-PIECE WITH IMPRESSIVE VISUALS AND GOOD PERFORMANCES 4 stars
3/20/06 Jason B First question: Has Muskewitz, or the Muskewitz in the review, read Proust. 5 stars
5/08/01 dave handley A Waste of my Time!! Good Sets & Costumes 2 stars
12/01/00 Dr Fardook for tainted cigarette smoking, espresso guzzling, pretentious art fucks like myself only 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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  04-Sep-1999

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