Je T'Aime, Je T'Aime (Alain Resnais / France, 1968):

Of mice and time-travelers. Borges prefaces "The Secret Miracle" with a quote from the Koran: "And God had him die for a hundred years and then revived him and said: ‘How long have you been here?’ ‘A day or a part of a day,’ he answered." The human lab rat (Claude Rich) is an office drone who botches his suicide, emerging from the clinic medicated and sluggish but still a smartass: "Time passing? Try putting it in a filter." A listless patient is easy prey for nutty professors, and, in deadpan chunks of sci-fi argot that gradually reveal a limpid lampoon of Fantastic Voyage, the top-secret experiment is outlined. The time machine is an oversized pincushion-pumpkin doohickey locked underground, and a camera obscura, too -- Rich steps inside, collapses into a beanbag chair, and recalls, projects, splinters, and suffers the narrative. Originally meant to last a minute, the head trip dilates into a stuttering tour of an unglued consciousness, where the breakdown of the senses is attuned to the breakdown of a relationship. Alain Resnais and le temps, contemplating the human condition in countless fragmented shots that return helplessly to the image of the self in a glass cage, gasping for air. The girlfriend (Olga Georges-Picot) who wonders if cats were made in God’s image, swimming and drowning at the beach, a bed cozily occupied and then vacant: flashes of the mind when words won’t do, "time inside and time outside," dreams. A near-abstract quilt of echoing lines and harmonies, a wounded portrait of "Prometheus without his vultures," altogether dazzling, virtually unseen yet immensely influential. Groundhog Day and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind flow from it, Cronenberg envisions the giant headspace in a garage in Scanners, Steve Martin in The Lonely Guy renders tribute to the greeting-card gag. Cinematography by Jean Boffety. With Anouk Ferjac, Alain McMoy, Vania Vilers, Ray Verhaeghe, Van Doude, and Claire Duhamel.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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