It’s spring. Love and pollen are in the air and everyone is emerging from their dark and cold hibernation dens.
Even better, you can shake the cobwebs out and defrost your icy heart from this hellish winter with the inaugural edition of the Quad and Cinémathèque française’s inaugural program, exploring the melodramatic mode in French cinema. Programmed by Jean-François Rauget, the series runs from May 16th through the 22th and features films by Max Ophüls, André Téchiné, Alain Resnais and Jean-Luc Godard.
Sampling from the best of the French New Wave filmmakers, the program focuses on the staples of this era of French filmmaking. With groundbreaking cinematography and hyperbolic character development, these films exemplify an era that wanted to exaggerate life’s nuances by blending realism and the avant-garde.
The beauty and complexity of this first series from The Quad and Cinémathèque, and French melodrama in general, comes from the way that it brings to light the intensity and juxtaposition of human relationships as they are both exaggerated and downplayed. Filled with affairs and betrayal, both platonic and romantic, these films mock, and hold dear the fabric of human interaction, as a comments on the previous eras of French and global cinema and as a new vessel for the existentialist movement coming out of the Parisian intellectual scene.
With Godard’s Vivre sa vie, the characters, and the viewer, are gradually brought into the world of prostitution with arresting nonchalance, but with a gravity that is only realized in the films conclusion. François Truffaut’s puts the trope of most illicit affairs front and centre with The Woman Next Door, but the film only does this to pull at your heart in the way that something so clear and obvious should be so unnecessarily and emotionally complex.
See the full program here.