Posted February 14, 2018
By JBFC Senior Programmer, Andrew Jupin
The latest from veteran French director Philippe Garrel, Lover for a Day—the third part of a trilogy—first showed at the 2017 Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. I caught it last September at the New York Film Festival, which has screened all three films in Garrel’s trilogy. The other two entries are Jealousy (2013) and In the Shadow of Women (2015).
Not to worry—you can watch Lover for a Day, without having seen the earlier films. Garrel’s “love” trilogy is more thematically and aesthetically linked. All three films deal with themes of love, lust, fidelity and family. Stylistically, the films are linked by their similar run times—no film in the trilogy exceeds 80 minutes—and all are shot using the same stark, black and white cinematography.
Garrel is a seasoned pro on the French filmmaking scene and was most certainly a part of the Nouvelle Vague—the blanket term we use for a group of filmmakers in France working from the late 1950s through the 1960s. These new wave filmmakers chose to reject the stylistic and thematic works of their peers—costume dramas, historical pieces, literary adaptations—instead creating films addressing more current social issues, utilizing guerrilla filmmaking techniques (permit-free on-location shooting instead of studio sets for example), rough-looking black and white film stock in a lot of cases, manipulating the traditional film form, and hiring their friends and other non-actors to fill roles instead of trying to cast well-known actors.
Garrel’s first feature film, Marie for Memory came out in 1967 and was a rough, realistic contemporary drama that followed two couples whose stories meet two very different ends. The film a featured Thierry and Maurice Garrel, Philippe’s brother and father (a renowned actor in France) respectively, in small roles. From his earliest work, filmmaking has always been a family affair for Garrel. Today, his son Louis, one of the most famous actors working in France, appears in several of his father’s films, including the two other films in this trilogy. (In a weird, French-New-Wave-coming-full-circle thing, you’ll be able to see Louis Garrel portray Jean-Luc Godard later this year in the new film, Redoubtable.)
And here in Lover for a Day, we find Garrel’s daughter, Esther Garrel, taking the role of Jeanne, the daughter. She also appears in Jealousy in a small role as “Esther.” If you’ve had the chance to see Luca Guadagnino’s much-praised Call Me By Your Name, then you’ve seen Esther as Marzia, the young woman who Elio (Timothée Chalamet) briefly spends time with.
Finally, I want to make quick mention of the company distributing this film, MUBI. Starting off several years ago simply as a website where cinephiles could go to log and review films that they have seen—very similar to the great site Letterboxd—MUBI has now expanded to include not only that same log/review system, but also into the areas of film writing, film curation, and film exhibition. Now, this may sound like a commercial for MUBI, but I can assure you I’m not getting a dime from them. I simply want to make you all hip to this service because it’s a truly great resource for film lovers looking to expand their horizons and even curate their own personal film studies courses. Their offerings feature films from various countries and periods. As opposed to other streaming sites, which seem to offer thousands of titles at a time, MUBI’s curation limits itself to around 30 titles at a time. Their selection is carefully curated by the staff and is incredibly diverse and interesting.
Additionally, MUBI is committed to the cinephile’s theatrical experience as well. They see the value in public film exhibition and choose to release the new films they acquire out of festivals. So, while Lover for a Day will eventually have its time streaming on the site, MUBI is first releasing the film theatrically so that people can experience these films the way they were meant to be seen—on a large screen with an audience. In an age where it seems technology is trying harder and harder to keep us inside and keep us alone, here is MUBI, celebrating the filmgoing experience and acknowledging the importance of art house cinemas. That’s something I can get behind, even as someone who is definitely not a spokesperson for MUBI.
Lover for a Day opens this Friday, Feb. 16. Tickets are now on sale HERE.