For a long time, I’ve been mildly contemptuous of Claude Lelouche’s films. Eminently français, these tired tales of bourgeois hypocrisy and venality, had lost all optimism, all beauty.
While Lelouche may have the pulse of the French elite and a great facility with camerra and word, blackness alone does not a world make.
In Le courage d’aimer, Lelouche finally puts his cinematic gifts to good use.
The Courage to Love is a bold exploration of the consequences of passion. It is also a picture within a picture within a picture. Truffaut’s Jour de nuit in a mirror funhouse.
We begin with an out of work Italian singer, a pretty shoplifter and identical twins who work as waitress in a jazz bar and maid in a château.
We pass by a ring of jewellery thieves, Comédie Française actors and a pizza magnate in this cardinal work crowned by a suicide.
Many of the moments – the young singer forced to choose between her success and the love of her life – leave hearts in throats. Lelouche is manipulating us, but with the masterly touch of a man whom life has manipulated endlessly throughout his own existence. We are left with a deeper understanding of the world and ourselves.
Pizza magnate Gorkini tells his mistress shortly before she becomes a murderess, “The motto of France should have been libery, equality and infidelity.”
My experience of France would tell me the same thing. Never has the beautiful been more perfidious. Nowhere does one suffer more from the consequences of inconsequence.
On Air France, Le courage d’aimer et la vie du château. A good meal. Good wine. Poire William. The benevolent and dangerous smile of the devil. The devil of pleasure.
Contrast Konsequenz – a bold Germanic intention to take the world to its logical conclusion and construct a reality within which one can live and one’s descendents also. Hopeless Gauls. Happy flight.