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The Independent Critic

Andres Dusollier, Sabine Azema, Emanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny
Alain Resnais
Christian Gailly (novel), Alex Reval & Laurent Herbiet (adaptation)
Rated PG
104 Mins.
Sony Classics
Includes "The Portrait of Production Designer Jacques Saulnier"

 "Wild Grass" Review 
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It is an astonishing fact that French director Alain Resnais, creator of such masterworks as Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad, is 88-years-old.

I point this out not to sway your decision regarding seeing this latest film by Resnais, Wild Grass. Seeing this film should be on your agenda without question should it arrive at an arthouse theatre or film festival in your community. Wild Grass may be an ever so slight disappointment in terms of the cinematic mastery of Resnais, but the worst of Resnais transcends the vast majority of the predictable and formulaic drivel being tossed out by Hollywood these days.

Wild Grass is most certainly not a Resnais masterwork, however, it is a wondrously alive and visually awesome cinematic feast that looks and feels and acts as if it were created by a filmmaker less than half the age of Resnais. Wild Grass, perhaps better than any romantic film of this year, beautifully intertwines the enthusiasm of youth with the more weathered, contemplative presence of a life fully lived.

In the film, a wallet lost and found ever so slightly opens the door to a romantic adventure between Georges (Andres Dussollier) and Marguerite (Sabine Azema). Based upon the novel L'incident by French author Christian Gailly, Wild Grass is a slight yet enchanting dance of two potentially fated individuals figuring out social protocols and weaving their way through what most will likely regard as increasingly unlikely circumstances.

Wild Grass will likely be a difficult view for many, an absurd blending of oddity with romance in which Resnais neither seeks nor attains any degree of balance between the two. There are moments in Wild Grass that exude sublime sweetness, while others require contemplation and thought. The structure of the film, predictable given that it's helmed by Resnais, is quirky and surprising with an abundance of stylized visual effects. On a certain level, this seems to be the approach that current indie Altiplano aims for, however, Resnais' experience as a director shines through and even during times when it seems Wild Grass will collapse it is the sure and steady hand of Resnais that maintains control over it all.

There will be those who will preach that Wild Grass is Resnais at his most weird, a study in intentional weirdness that feels disjointed and without purpose. While every film is, if done well, open to interpretation, Wild Grass doesn't so much feel gratuitously weird as it does completely devoted to the idea that virtually every aspect of our lives is random.

For once, randomness makes sense.

As co-leads, Dussollier and Azema are a joy in the ways in which they manage to blend an almost classic French romanticism with moments of Beckett like absurdity. As Marguerite's best friend, Emanuelle Devos serves as an excellent companion to the entire adventure.

The camera work of Eric Gautier is astounding, while Jacques Saulnier creates a production design that weaves together both the reality and the fantasy of Resnais' abstract vision.

Nominated for the Golden Palm at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where Resnais received two awards for his life's work, Wild Grass was also nominated for four Cesar Awards including Best Film in 2010. The film is being released on home video on October 26th, 2010!

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic