Man, whatever happened to Gerard Depardieu? He was a damn fine character actor and French sex symbol, then he went and gained some serious weight. I haven’t seen him in any of his recent films (though he is in Life of Pi, which as the cover of the next edition of the Book, I’ll be seeing sometime in the future), so I can’t attest to whether or not he’s still got the acting goods, but it’s a little surprising he went all Orson Welles on himself. Especially given that he used to make films like Loulou, an exploration of French ideals in the guise of a love affair between Depardieu’s roguish thief and Isabelle Huppert’s dissatisfied housewife. The Book seemed to have a bit to say about this one, about how it was a scintillating look into the sexual relationships between classes in France, and what-have-you, but for me, I’m not really seeing too deeply into it the way these professional critic types seem to be.
There’s really not too much to the plot, other than Huppert having an affair with Depardieu, pretty much in the face of her former husband, who comes into and out of the plot intermittently. There’s definitely some subtext between Huppert’s character intentionally foregoing the secure, upper-class lifestyle for the thieving, lower-class Loulou, but I didn’t really find too much more than that, and certainly not for a thesis essay or anything of the kind. The film comes across as a Dogme film before the Dogme had actually been laid out; handheld camera, natural lighting, realistic performances, whatever is the opposite of ‘the works’. Now, when a film goes this route, regardless of its intent in doing so, it had better be pretty darn entertaining and solidly written and performed in order to do the bare minimum of any film and hold the viewer’s interest. Loulou fails in this regard; the performances are bare (and well done for it) but nothing to get in a tiff over, the cinematography is just as naturalistic, and therefore just as unremarkable, and the script was nothing to be surprised about – it got the job done, and that was about it. Really, that’s what this film has to offer; it gets done what it wants to get done, and that’s that. The bare minimum.
I have a theory; when a film isn’t really as fully developed as it has the potential to be, critics like to fill in the empty spaces with presumptions and meanings behind things that most likely aren’t as there as they would like to think they are. In essence, this is a film that is so devoid of substance (i.e. the subtext and layers the Book’s quotation says about the film), that to justify its very existence, critics over-analyze it and come up with subtext and layers where there really shouldn’t be any. Loulou might be all that I’ve heard about it (which wasn’t much, and took some searching), but for me, I looked under the hood, and I saw very little under there. This is another one where pretty much all it has to offer can be found in other films, and in better form, so there’s really no reason to watch this, unless you’re specifically interested in a certain aspect of it. I wasn’t, and so I remained fairly detached as the film went on, and I suspect that will be the case with you as well.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10
By the by, I’ve had computer troubles, which is why I haven’t posted in almost two weeks. All better now, though, so back to the quest for me.