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The Birth of Love

(La naissance de l'amour)
France/Switzerland 1993. Dir: Philippe Garrel. 94 min. 35mm

35mm PRINT! Legendary New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud and ’70s arthouse thesp Lou Castel (Beware of a Holy Whore, The American Friend) share top-billing in this melancholic, minutely focused study of midlife stagnation from imperative auteur Philippe Garrel. Léaud is Marcus, a newly dumped, fiftysomething Parisian journalist still sore about his unrealized literary ambitions. Castel is Paul, Marcus’s friend and fellow middle-aged discontent who’s carrying on a string of affairs with younger women (including Johanna ter Steege, of Garrel’s I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar) behind his pregnant wife’s back. As in much of Garrel’s self-referential cinema, the shadow of May 1968’s unfulfilled revolution looms large over the characters’ incertitude and emptiness. Velvet Underground alumnus John Cale provides the piano score. Renowned nouvelle vague cinematographer Raoul Coutard renders the men’s respective crises in stunning, high-contrast black-and-white. Print courtesy Institut Français, thanks to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York.

REVIEWS

"Piercingly beautiful and eloquent."

Los Angeles Times | full review

"A movie to be tasted and savored."

Jonathan Rosenbaum | full review