Mauvais Sang ★★★½

70/100

Clarifies for me that Carax is a genius in short bursts, and hence not really cut out for feature-length narratives (though I may bite my tongue when I revisit Les amants du Pont-Neuf, which I love but haven't seen since 1999). Holy Motors' shape-shifting conceit was ideal, as it allowed him to leap from one outré idea to another without worrying much about forging plausible connections; here, the whole gangster/moll/virus story feels perfunctory to the point of irrelevance—strictly an excuse for a handful of dazzling setpieces. Everyone (except Noah Baumbach, cough cough) remembers the "Modern Love" dash, but that arguably isn't even the film's best scene involving running—Lise pursuing Alex to the subway, as we hear his goodbye note in voiceover, is just nonstop amazement, marrying style to content in a way that could serve as a visual definition for "impetuous." And I'll probably soon write a Scenic Routes column on Binoche's entrance, which may be the single greatest introduction to a character in cinema history—at the very least, it's the most romantically prolonged tease at the perimeter of visibility. So front-loaded is Mauvais sang with giddy invention that 20 minutes in I was convinced that I must have been asleep the first time I saw it, given its absence from my '86 top ten list. Then Alex and Lise started talking, and the gangster plot kicked back in, and oh right okay I remember now. (Still currently at #10, though.)