Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Benefits of Sleep

I fell asleep at the cinema last night. It may have been for ten or fifteen minutes, or maybe even for less but it was enough to disorient me and make me lose track of Christophe Honoré's new film Non, ma fille tu n'iras pas danser. I watched it till the end anyway and, to be fair, the plotting of the film is largely unremarkable and not a great deal happens in its 1 hour 45 minute running time. The film is essentially the tale of a 30-something mother of two Chiara Matroianni, who is undergoing a painful divorce with Jean-Marc Barr while negotiating the rest of her Breton family, most of whom seem unwecomely serence in this context.

I found the film at turns boring, watchable, enjoyable and funny. And it also made me slightly depressed (as I imagine it will do to quite a few thirtysomethings). While watching it I didn't think it amounted to much. Now, 18 hours later, every frame (except those in the lost quarter of an hour) is indelibly imprinted on my mind. It's a similar sensation to Proust or António Lobo Antunes, the force and the images of whose books rarely sink in while reading them but which insiduously take up camp in your mind and stay there for eternity.

It's Honoré's fourth film in as many years and there is a refreshing touch of the Nouvelle Vague about his freewheeling attitude to filmmaking and storytelling. It's also a further sign that French cinema at the moment, is very good indeed, probably at its strongest since the late 1970s. Honoré also deserves the respect of all for being a prominent opponent of Nicolas Sarkozy's Hadopi law, which aims to criminalise downloading, all in the name of 'protecting artists'. Honoré and his colleagues have disputed this blanket ventriloquism. Ever since day one of the downloading debate, the artists and musicians that have lined up on either side of the debate have mostly been distinguishable in terms of quality and talent. Once again, the genuinely talented do not want to punish their fans for being curious and spreading the word about their work.