Birds in Peru ★★★

Adriana: "I'm afraid..."
Rainer: "Of what?"
Adriana: "Of myself."

Esoteric beachfront art house eurosleaze - or at least you would think so given that this was the first motion picture to ever receive an 'X' rating from the MPAA.

Feel fortunate to have - by complete, random serendipity - read this enormously relevant article by Megan Koester last evening, as it - incidentally - provided me with the key(s) necessary to unlock and appreciate this movie on its own terms.

Truthfully, this is a willfully obtuse and loosely autobiographical film about love, desire, and female psychology from writer-turned-movie-director Romain Gary, starring his then-wife Jean Seberg; a film where sex is a mere suggestion and perversity (that unseeable sickness) is the subject. The husband character (Pierre Brasseur) is a dead ringer for Romain Gary and, well, Jean Seberg basically plays a version of herself. A small film about a big subject, its soap opera-style staging frequently undermines its ambitious goals, but there are heightened moments where - even experiencing this film via a washed-out, 4:3 when it's not supposed to be TV broadcast - Seberg's performance approaches the territory later claimed by Isabelle Adjani in POSSESSION (1981). There's something deep and true at work and buried at the center of BIRDS IN PERU tied to wanting to be loved, being desired by strangers, and accepting self-harm (or suicide) as an acceptable alternative to reality. Grapples with its own gravitas.

P.S. Tragic as it may be, it should be no particular surprise to learn that both Jean Seberg and Romain Gary - years after their divorce - committed suicide.