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FRONTIER OF DAWN (La frontière de l’aube) (director/writer: Phillipe Garrel; screenwriters: Marc Cholodenko/Arlette Langmann; cinematographer: William Lubtchansky; editor: Yann Dedet; music: Jean-Claude Vanniwer; cast: Louis Garrel (François), Laura Smet (Carole Weissman), Clémentine Poidatz (Ève), Olivier Massart (Ève’s Father), Emmanuel Broche (Jean-Jacques), Eric Rulliat (Carole’s husband); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Edouard Weil/Conchita Airoldi; IFC; 2008-France-in French with English subtitles)
“Tedious fatalistic French melodrama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Tedious fatalistic French melodrama about a haunting love affair. If it doesn’t bore you to death, it may leave you with some goose bumps as it sets an eerie glacial mood and some thing to mull over as it offers some bon mots about love being what makes living worthwhile. Phillipe Garrel (“Regular Lovers”/”I Don’t Hear the Guitar Anymore”/”Wild Innocence”) directs his son Louis Garrel, once again. It’s written in a dreamlike way by Phillipe Garrel, Marc Cholodenko and Arlette Langmann, and luminously photographed in black-and-white by William Lubtchansky.

Neglected by her actor husband of three months who is doing a film in Hollywood and longing for companionship, the lonely, high-strung and unstable famous French actress Carole Weissman (Laura Smet) enters into a passionate affair with a nobody photographer named François (Louis Garrel). The handsome lad has been assigned to take her portrait. When hubby returns, the affair with the young photographer ends. The Parisian photographer then becomes engaged to the wealthy and pretty Ève (Clémentine Poidatz). She’s pregnant with his child, which leads to a guilt trip as he’s fallen in love with the reckless Carole who supposedly killed herself because she couldn’t have him anymore. The neurotic and carefree Carole haunts François for choosing a staid bourgeois future existence, beckoning him back to her clutches by appearing to him in a mirror as a temptress (think Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheus!”).

Filled with an other-world setting that takes for granted we’re fine with a ghost in a mirror as the film’s plot line and an elliptical narration, the film left me sleepwalking through it just like it did most of the cast. This one is an acquired taste, something I just don’t have for Garrel’s somber take on matters of the heart. At least I didn’t jeer at it like many in the Cannes crowd did when it was shown during the festival.

It can be seen on IFC On Demand.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”