"An intractable, object-like movie with many pleasing symmetries…" - J. Hoberman, the Village Voice
Chantal Akerman’s insinuating chamber drama distills the romantic pathologies of suspicion and control with remarkable precision. Based on the fifth volume Proust’s IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, LA CAPTIVE treats the novel’s fetishized structures of detail and time as symptoms of a slow spreading sickness. The film opens with Simon (Stanislas Merhar), an idyll and comfortable writer, watching home movies of a group of women frolicking on the beach. Among them is his lover Ariane (Sylvie Testud). The architecture of this scene, with Simon at once possessing the woman’s image and yet still hungering for its hidden significance, sets the stage for his dissolute pursuit of absolute knowledge. A methodical pursuit through the streets of Paris is borrowed from VERTIGO, but Simon has reached a more advanced stage of voyeurism. He keeps Ariane in a small room in the stale apartment he shares with his grandmother; the young woman waits his call and holds herself lifeless for his embrace. But there’s an intractable problem with the arrangement: Ariane’s distant passivity facilitates Simon’s control, but it also inflames his lingering suspicion that she remains “elsewhere,” a wound formally realized in Akerman’s captivating mastery of offscreen space. The film’s philosophical evaluation of the limits of control is as much a matter of composition as dialogue, with the lovers’ elaborately ritualized intimacy depicted in obstinate long takes. Akerman’s objective cognition of the doubts and desires underlying Simon’s passive aggressive behavior makes LA CAPTIVE an unusually acute psychological study with formal elements perfectly calibrated to realize an incurable remainder of despair.
Cast & Crew
- Sophie Assante - The singing woman
- Bérénice Bejo - Sarah
- Olivia Bonamy - Andrée
- Jean Borodine - The chauffeur
- Adeline Chaudron - Prostitute
- Aurore Clément - Léa
- Pascal Erizabal - Hotel porter
- Christopher Gendreau - Bellboy
- Laurence Guillet - Receptionist
- Sébastien Haddouk - Painter
- Claude Hermann - Voice on radio
- Stanislas Januskiewicz - Matre d'hotel
- Vanessa Larré - Hélène
- Stanislas Merhar - Simon
- Xavier Morange - Painter
- Anna Mouglalis - Isabelle
- Liliane Rovere - Françoise, the maid
- Samuel Tasinaje - Levy
- Sylvie Testud - Ariane
- Awards & Accolades
- Best Actress Nominee European Film Awards 2000
Reviews(see the best reviews)
The best part was when he dry humped the girl.
I like Proust and slow arty movies, but found this one frustrating. So often things just didn't make much sense to me, were unexplained, inconsistent. I liked the grandmother and wanted to see more of her, was sad when he didn't go with her to the doctor, not very considerate. But otherwise, nothing engaged me deeply, as the pair didn't seem to be in love at all, showed little personality, brilliance, or depth. The movie is beautiful in the outdoor scenes in nature, and would be lovely in the more domestic scenes if I could get past the bizarre lifestyle of being waited on like that.
He's a handsome man, and she's ordinary looking and sounding, and I did appreciate that he liked her anyway, that she wasn't required to be ideal. I felt sorry for her, until she admitted lying. She said she was happy with him, but how could be be? Never was anything positive shown, no playfulness, nothing. Way too many mysteries for me.
But at the same time, it did function as a good reminder about how obsessive human nature can be, unfortunately.