Céline and Julie Go Boating

Céline and Julie Go Boating ★★★★★

A meeting of two women who've only lived their lives through the fantasies of men. One receives the far away affection of a man who only remembers the vulgar doctor's games of childhood adolescence. The other dresses up the part of a magician, though Gob Bluth's line of the difference between tricks and illusions rings true given the masculine audience's "refrigerated glasses" creating an ugly gaze. The safe space first appears as a collection of dolls, toys, and books of silly phrases meant for childish belief. But these women transforms them into instruments of magical power—broken candies the secret to sliding into a reality just a cab ride away. Paris will always be Paris: Construction heard off screen, cars honking out the window, and passerbys simply going about their day. But the sound of a chickadee signals a transformation as these women lock eyes for the first time. Only as each other can they break out of the fantasies of other men and become their own adventure.

They succumb again and again to seeing the same dull narrative play out in its most banal fashion: forbidden love sets the stage for the death of a young girl—we've seen it all before, haven't we? The stale language, over-emphasized pauses, and drab set dressing reveal itself finally as a ghastly relic of the past. So let the women provide their commentary, turn from side characters into detectives, and heck, tango on through the story and make their own ending. Rivette gives himself willingly to the whims of Berto and Labourier (roller skates and all). The camera is less a guiding force than a participant with its co-writing stars, allowing them to move and speak with a rhythmic and tonal freedom that makes it their adventure and not his. His editorial appears right before the ending, as two boats pass in silence, as if acknowledging that in the vast lake of narrative ideas, each approach to story has its own path to take. And then, it happened again the next morning...

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