Out 1

Out 1 ★★★½

9th Jacques Rivette (after The Story of Marie and Julien, Celine and Julie Go Boating, La Belle Noiseuse, Le Coup de Berger, Secret Defence; Up, Down, Fragile; Paris Belongs to Us and L’Amour Fou)

Part 8 of the Longest Month of My Life

How to accurately sum up a film seen in dribs and drabs over a whole week? This was the worry with my challenge, that the demands of time would mean that I would have to pull out a film until it became a series of tenuously connected moments and I'd effectively lose the thread of it all. Sadly, that's what's happened with Out 1, though something tells me that even seeing over two or even three days might not have changed a whole lot. Despite being something close to twelve hours long, it's a furiously opaque film, one that buries its secrets within the huge blocks of time it unspools, not merely in the case of its interconnecting stories but also the famed rehearsal sequences that make up much of the film's early running time. You have to do a lot of heavy lifting to keep this film going in your head, and certainly while there were points I felt like I lived inside the film, the length of time I had to sustain that weight ultimately meant it collapsed around me. All I could pick up were a few strands, of which I'll detail briefly below.

There is, I think, a larger story about the dangers of storytelling and play-acting and how the desire to make meaning can push people into paranoia. We want to connect the various dots we see around us into something coherent, but it's how we dig into fiction as a medium for finding that coherency that becomes the problem. If Colin becomes gradually unhinged by the spectre (haha) of the Thirteen, then the Thirteen itself gradually begins to crack when they begin to create stories about the letters that have gone missing. The fact that the primary foot-soldiers of the group, Thomas, Sarah and Lilli are all involved in theatrical projects is telling, especially considering much of their rehearsals (especially Thomas's Prometheus Bound group) involve some form of freakout, in a very late 60s/early 70s manner. They remove themselves from their bodies and minds through these exercises, a level of destabilisation of the self that ultimately can be read as a teetering into paranoia, where fiction wanders over into reality and permanently muddies the water.

And there are some brilliantly chilling moments in the film. Sarah's gradual transformation (at least from the jagged editing and reversed sound- Lynch, did you watch this) into something of devious puppeteer with control over not just Colin and Thomas but Pauline/Emilie in the final episode is chilling considering what has come beforehand. There's real menace in her questioning of Pauline, her constant demand that she sleep, that ultimately suggest a greater darkness cracking through the carapace of this otherwise deceptively innocuous film. And Jean-Pierre Léaud's performance is tremendous, including the rightly famous walk through the streets of Paris violently repeating the word "Crew" over and over until it becomes a form of nonsense, and the subtle suggestion from Warok at the end as to how right Colin was is chilling in itself. It's these moments of breaking, of destruction, that electrify me. That's what I pulled from the rubble of a week; the rest is simply large pillars of long conversations, endless transcript I cannot find my way into.

The question is, how would a watch of only two days, a reading of The Thirteen and The Hunting of the Snark change my opinion of the film? Only time will tell. I think my understanding would be much deeper, but it's about finding the time and in this time of my life I don't have much of that. Maybe in a few years. However, Spectre? That's a different story. I've heard that for some, it's a better version of this, or a necessary watch before attempting this. Perhaps my more lukewarm response is a result of jumping into the deep end of the pool. Only time will tell.

Rivette in Order:
1. Celine and Julie Go Boating
2. L’Amour Fou
3. Secret Defence
4. The Story of Marie and Julien
5. Paris Belongs to Us
6. La Belle Noiseuse
7. Up, Down, Fragile
8. Le Coup de Berger
9. Out 1: Noli Me Tangere

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