The fairest one of all

I first saw Claude Miller’s stylish MORTELLE RANDONEE back in the 80s in BBC2’s Film Club strand. They had a habit of pairing one recent film with an older one of the same genre, so maybe this was paired with QUAIS DES ORFEVRES or something (I remember they screened that at some point). My feeling at the time was “starts strong, goes off the boil, staggers to its conclusion.” I was worried that, seeing it again so much later, my opinion would be unchanged. Parts of the film had stayed with me, so I felt it had something going for it. I don’t like the idea that I might not have evolved.

I rather loved the film this time! Those aspects of it which go unexplained for most of the runtime — like the central character’s entire motivation — worked especially well for me now that I’ve built up my negative capability a bit. And fans of neat endings need not worry — the movie wraps everything up in a ball at the end, though with a sense of enigmatic, even numinous, maintained around the edges. There’s telepathy, but it’s more of a stylistic choice than a plot point.

Over at The Forgotten.

2 Responses to “The fairest one of all”

  1. Serrault seemed to have a particularly fertile period as an actor in the late 1970s/early 1980s in roles that exploit both his comic and dramatic talents, and the sense of unease that he projects — the Blier movies, his slightly earlier collaboration with Claude Miller in Garde à vue, or with Chabrol in Les Fantômes du Chapelier (a characterization he carried a good deal further in Docteur Petiot a few years later), etc. Excellent write-up — and I’ll have to revisit, as the opening scene is very hazy in memory. For some reason, the “movie-ness” you refer to makes me think of Chabrol’s two Inspecteur Lavardin films from a similar period, which play with cameras, screens, and other visual tropes (e.g. the Jean-Claude Brialy character who paints… eyes).

  2. This goes beyond those in terms of glitz — not quite Beineix territory, but a country next door. And like Blier, it’s very connected to its own sense of being a YARN.

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