Time Regained (Le temps retrouve)

Time Regained

In this work is all of your life, and the life of all men.

Time Regained is a complete oddity of a film, at least for me. For one, it’s a French film directed by a Chilean filmmaker, Raul Ruiz, and features an ensemble cast from several different countries. One would think, because of this, that it must have been quite the production for so many people from all over the globe to get involved with it, and it certainly is a production, all right. Just what kind of production or film it really is, is the question. It’s not just that the film seems to have no goal or intention of what kind of film it wants to be, but that the very chaotic nature of the finished product is what the film should’ve been. It might have been the filmmakers’ intent to make a film so variable it would take a quantum physicist to be able to put it all in order, but I’d be surprised if someone didn’t stop them at some point and say, “Hey, shouldn’t we be constructing the film so that, you know, people can actually watch the darn thing?” Because they clearly didn’t.

This is one of the most disjointed films I have ever seen. Dialogue is never specific, and never seems to have a starting or ending point; it is merely the finished cut of the film that contains the middle portion of whatever the dialogue is. Characters are introduced with no introduction; we simply cut in on them speaking, and have no idea who they are or what they’re talking about. It all makes for a very frustrating viewing; you don’t even know the story or what is happening, let alone why you should be caring, so you just don’t. What did jump out at me right from the start was the camerawork and choreography; the film contained a great number of cinematic techniques that you really don’t see in too many films. The camera was incredibly ambulatory, and in a strange choice, so was the set; characters and even set pieces would literally be moved within the frame, almost as if everything were floating, and while it was quite a novelty early on, it got more tiring as the film continued. Still, there were a number of times I caught myself admiring the visuals, though that was pretty much only because there was nothing else in the film for me to admire.

The film purports to be the mental rememberings of Marcel Proust on his deathbed, which would explain both the narrative core of the guy in his bed used throughout the film as well as the extremely chaotic nature and placement of said flashbacks. That still doesn’t excuse it, though. For a film over two and a half hours long, I don’t think I knew what was going on for twenty minutes of it, and no matter how innovative or progressive a film may be, either in storytelling or in the technicals, when you just can’t sit down and watch the film from start to finish, then it has failed in its purpose. That’s the bottom line, the bare minimum that any film needs to meet to be considered as a piece of entertainment media, and Time Regained failed in that regard for me. You might have better luck, but all I can say is, if you’re going to at least try, do your research beforehand. Hopefully that will help ease it somewhat, but maybe even that won’t be enough to save you.

Arbitrary Rating: 5/10

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3 thoughts on “Time Regained (Le temps retrouve)

  1. Oh, boy, did I have a problem with this film. Specifically, the fact that the subtitles were white and were frequently placed over a purely white background. I’m a bright guy, but my French sucks, and so for about 20% of the conversations, I had no idea what was going on. They could’ve been talking about one of Proust’s books, World War I, or the chicken they were eating, and I’d never know.

    So irritating!

    • Youch. Mine were white with a black border, so I didn’t have that problem. But even still, I rarely knew what was going on anyway, and even when I did, there was no setup or anything to make me care what was going on, so I too often didn’t. This just failed in almost every regard for me. Nice to look at, though.

      • Y’know, I’m sort of relieved that it turns out I didn’t miss much, because I really don’t want to watch it again.

        But yeah, it’s awful pretty, but it’s an empty puff pastry.

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