Rendez-vous ★★★

I am a fan of Andre Techine, so was looking forward to the early film of his. Another big plus was it featured Juliette Binoche (age 21 here) at the start of her career. But I had a very mixed response to it. Binoche plays a young wannabe actress, arriving in Paris from the provinces at age 18, ready to, as she says "live here life". But her life revolves around being sexually available to the men she meets, most of whom are struck (if not obsessed) by her youthful beauty but treat her badly.

There's not a lot of backstory to her behavior and from a psychological perspective one would assume her to be a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and/or extremely naive. And the film seems unclear whether to portray her as a victim or a troubled promiscuous woman. And the male characters' rapid transition from idealizing her to treating her with contempt is disturbing. Although portrayed in different ways, this is the pattern with all 3 male protagonists - a shy young real estate agent, an actor who works in a live-sex theater performance, and an older stage director.

The acting is uniformly good, and Binoche is stunningly beautiful in a damaged teenager kind of way. There's a connection to Shakespeare's
"Romeo and Juliet" that I couldn't quite see the point of, and an odd sequence later in the film where a character who'd died returns as if in a dream or fantasy. While I am glad I saw this, I am also glad that I have already seen much of Techine's later (and much better) films so I didn't use this as my starting point.

This is available to stream on The Criterion Channel.