a tale of a few cities

J’aime Jacques Rivette

Posted in Cinéma, San Francisco by petercombe on April 18, 2010


Around a Small Mountain, (a.k.a. 36 vues du Pic St-Loup)

Dir. Jacques Rivette

France/Italy, 2009, 84 minutes

After he helps her restart her stalled car, Kate (Jane Birkin) invites Italian traveler Vittorio (Sergio Castellitto) to come see her family’s traveling circus. Already smitten with Kate, he soon falls under the threadbare big top’s spell as well, postponing his trip to Barcelona to hang out with the clowns and acrobats. When he discovers that Kate—who has just rejoined the troupe after a long absence—used to walk the high wire but now fears even entering the ring, he determines to uncover the reason for her stage fright and see her perform again. Jacques Rivette’s latest, a compact and engrossingly enigmatic tale, makes the most of the master filmmaker’s love of improvisation and the theater—the latter here transformed into the rickety, barely surviving circus, where the narrative occasionally pauses to let the camera take in the acts of various performers. In contrast to the exuberance of such displays, the film also nurses a strain of melancholy, as the grief and guilt Kate has been carrying with her for so long casts a spell over the story. Rivette regular Birkin mesmerizes in the role of a woman who has closed herself off but who now awakens slowly to life’s possibilities. Full of humor, mystery, subtle romance and an unmistakable valedictory tone, this playful and loving ode by the 82-year-old director reveals him very much at the top of his game.

—Pam Grady

53rd San Francisco International Film Festival


Fri, Apr 23 / 9:30 / Kabuki / AROU23K
Sat, Apr 24 / 4:15 / Kabuki / AROU24K
Wed, Apr 28 / 6:30 / PFA / AROU28P



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