Something in the Air (France, 2012)

SomethingintheAirDirected by: Olivier Assayas. This is a director who seems to be one of those pretty legit directors, sticking to his own fairly distinct style, doing pretty consistently interesting French art movies, and not getting anywhere near the amount of buzz as, say, Haneke or Cuarón (at least, not in my neck of the woods). I started the monumental 6-hour, uncut Carlos, but had to give up due to external life obligations, but I saw Boarding Gate in its entirety, and I thought the narrative style of it was one of the most unique, if difficult, things I’ve seen in a long time. Assayas is definitely a unique filmmaker with a unique voice, but I’m not sure if everyone would like what he has to say (and I’m sure the filmmaker himself has no problem with this). Assayas is definitely a leftist filmmaker, and the notion of a unique film language deployed to thwart the chains of the old bourgeois order—a pretty strong trace of Godard—is discussed openly by this film’s protagonists, a group of middle-to-upper-class high school kids in the turbulent 60’s, trying to reconcile their tendency to make art with their higher ideals. Unlike a lot of Godard, however, Assayas steps fairly gingerly, his composition deliberately distant, the editing fairly invisible while still being quite deliberate and graceful. The confrontational socialism of Godard’s work is avoided here for a softer touch, reflecting perhaps the fluffy indeterminacy of youth itself. I don’t recall Carlos, for example, being this slow and flowery, which tells me that Assayas is definitely adapting his style to fit the subject matter. The entire subject matter, as I said before, might rub people the wrong way: anything that focuses on privileged teens with their heads in the clouds trying to “find themselves” doesn’t sound great on paper, and throwing some militant junior socialism in the mix doesn’t help matters. Those with an interest in the leftist movement of the 60’s and 70’s, the student movement of May 1968, any of that, might take a greater interest in this film. Assayas based it loosely around his own adolescence during this particularly explosive era in France. Judging from this film, I’d say it was a really interesting time, but perhaps my own academic interest in that topic would be better served from some studied reading and not from this “coming of age” movie. As far as those go, though, this one is pretty enjoyable.

3 responses to “Something in the Air (France, 2012)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2013 | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Carlos (France/Germany, 2010) | Offhand Reviews·

  3. Pingback: Irma Vep (France, 1996) | Offhand Reviews·

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