Paris Belongs To Us, Blu-ray (1961/2016)

A supposed first in the French New Wave, but not a classic.

Paris Belongs To Us, Blu-ray (1961/2016)

Cast: Betty Schneider, Jean-Claude Brialy
Director: Jacques Rivette
Studio: MK2/ Janus Films/The Criterion Collection 802 (3/8/16)
Video: 1.37:1 for 4:3 display, 1080p HD black & white
Audio: French, PCM mono
Subtitles: English
Extras: New interview with Richard Neupert, author of A History of the French New Wave Cinema; 1956 Rivette short Le coup du berger; Illus. booklet with essay by critic Luc Sante
Length: 141 min.
Rating: ***1/2

Rivette usually is not included in the leaders of the French New Wave with Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol and Rohmer, partly because finances delayed the post-production on this film and it wasn’t released until 1961, though shot in 1958 and ‘59. Rivette gets away from the American gangster-influenced characters but is also obsessed with Americana. He is known for the length of his films; this is actually one of his shortest at 141 minutes and could use some editing!

Anne is a young literature student in a Paris hostel, drawn into the bohemian circle of her brother Pierre. Much of it is shot in rather decrepit Parisian rented rooms, with little attention to lighting. There’s an atmosphere of paranoia and disillusionment. There is a fascination with theater, as one of the characters is struggling to stage a version of Pericles (which Shakespeare may not have even written), without paying the actors. The b&w shots of Paris of the late ‘50s are interesting, and I found the appearance of two cars I’ve owned: a DS-21 Citroen and a Morris MGA, to be more interesting to me than the characters and plot of the film.

I think I’ll stick with the French New Wave classics like 400 Blows and Breathless and forget this one.

—John Sunier

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