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Worth A Look: 30%
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3 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Va Savoir
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by Thom

"French relationship drama - 'nuff said."
3 stars

Va Savoir translates as “Who Knows”. The title is an allusion to the precariousness of life and one never knows what direction life will go when you let love lead the way. It starts slow and at two and half hours demands the patience of even the most disciplined cinephile. When the subplots begin to emerge, the story gets interesting and the film stands on the audience’s curiosity about whether the star crossed lovers will reunite, if the director will find the rare, unpublished play and not whether, but when, everyone will give into their passions and obey Cupid’s insistent prodding.

Camille (Jeanne Balibar) and Ugo (Sergio Castellitto) return to Paris from Italy to stage an Italian play. Camille is originally from Paris but she left three years prior after a love affair fell apart. Upon her return, she seeks out her former lover, Pierre (Jacques Bonnaffé), a Professor of Philosophy. “It shouldn’t hurt to love someone this much”, she says. She is now with Ugo, the director of the theatrical company now stays as close to Pierre as she can. As the days wear on, her and Pierre become closer. Pierre’s wife Sonia (Marianne Basler), a ballet instructor who has a mysterious “former life”, is not worried about Camille coming back into Pierre’s wife. She has her own love affair in the making to deal with.

Ugo is the director searching for a rare manuscript. He wants to be the first to perform a lost 18th century Italian play. In the library, he meets Dominique (Héléne De Fougerolles) who he runs into again at the private library where he hopes to find the manuscript. It turns out Do is heir to the library. Arthur (Bruno Todeschini), her half-brother, a gambler who pinches books from the library to fund his habit, is also an heir of the collection whose literary worth he is totally unconcerned about. Ugo is soon chasing Do (as she is called) while Arthur, unbeknownst to anyone, is pursuing Pierre’s wife.

So the score. Ugo, who is with Camille, is after Do. Camille and Pierre are politely restraining themselves from becoming romantically involved again and Arthur, who is a bit of a sleaze, is after Sonia. Arthur and Do and the library are the wrench of fate that helps break down the machine of all these unhappy pairings locked in perpetuity.

The film is almost completely dialogue driven, at times too theatrical and melodramatic but it falls into an easy and casual rythym after the strained opening scene transforming it from difficult (and done to death) “high art” and more like a movie.

All the typical elements of French/Italian heterosexuality are present. Women find an uneasy relationship with the men who objectify and control them and men act as sexual predators in spite of their cultural or intellectual sophistication. Everyone is beautiful or accomplished or talented and the backdrop, for Francophiles, is very Parisian. It would be a good film for a French student to go see or someone who had a few hours they wanted to kill reading subtitles. It’s not even a very original exploration of the vagaries of love and complicated affairs of the heart. Its subtlety is appealing but you really have to be in the mood for it.

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originally posted: 10/03/01 17:28:38
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User Comments

4/17/07 Hanspeter Bertschy beautiful slow and thoughtful film. 5 stars
12/02/02 Buddha Found it slooooooooooow. 2 stars
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  28-Sep-2001 (PG-13)



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