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EIGHTIES, THE (Années 80, Les) (director/writer: Chantal Akerman; screenwriter: Jean Gruault; cinematographer: Michel Houssiau; editors: Nadine Keseman/Francine Sandberg; music: Marc Hérouet; cast: Aurore Clement, Lio, Magali Noel; Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Marilyn Watelet; Hollywood Video; 1983-Belgium/France-in French with English subtitles)
“The surprising way it’s filmed has its pleasures.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Belgian experimental filmmaker Chantal Akerman (“Je Tu Il Elle”/”Nuit et Jour”/”News from Home”) comes up with a goofy backstage musical revolving around rehearsal footage, that aims to be a deconstruction of the musical. It opens with disembodied voices on a black screen, which leads to ladies’ feet in heels clicking across the floor. The first hour, shot on video, amounts to a montage of auditions for parts in a musical comedy. It’s untidy but very playful, and the surprising way it’s filmed has its pleasures. The unseen Akerman directs from behind the scenes, as she uses the actors like props to get them to deliver their songs the way she wants The choreography is rehearsed, repeated, and altered under Akerman’s offscreen guiding hand.

The second part, lasting twenty minutes and shot in 35mm, offers a musical extravaganza that comes out of the rehearsals. It’s set in a shopping mall that becomes a ballroom for Magali Noël to swirl around in. It gives us an interesting preview of Akerman’s upcoming musical comedy “Window Shopping.” The pay-off is rewarding, but I found it trying to endure the less than wonderful grind of the first part.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”