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GANG OF FOUR (Bande des quatre, La) (director/writer: Jacques Rivette; screenwriters: Pascal Bonitzer/Christine Laurent; cinematographer: Caroline Champetier; editor: Catherine Quesemand; music: Claudio Monteverdi; cast: Bulle Ogier (Constance), Benoît Régent (Thomas), Fejria Deliba (Anna), Laurence Côte (Claude), Bernadette Giraud (Joyce), Inês de Medeiros (Lucia), Nathalie Richard (Cécile); Runtime: 155; Metropolis Pictures; 1988-France)
“This lengthy 155 minute work by Jacques Rivette is both brilliant and frustrating.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This lengthy 155 minute work by Jacques Rivette is both brilliant and frustrating. It represents the director’s on-going themes of sexual frustration and paranoia. It centers on four female acting class students living together in a suburban house outside of Paris: Anna (Deliba), Lucia (Medeiros), Claude (Côte), and Joyce (Giraud). Anna has moved into the room vacated by Cécile (Richard). Cécile has left to live in a hidden address with her mysterious boyfriend whom none have met, while she still continues with her acting lessons and like the others must learn to leave her personal life at home while acting. They have a demanding teacher, Constance Dumas (Ogier), in an all-female class, where they rehearse the plays of Marivaux and Euripedes.

A creepy guy, Thomas (Régent), who might be a cop or a criminal cop, is after a set of keys to a safe that holds valuable papers hidden in Cécile’s room. Her boyfriend Lucas is involved in some unexplained conspiracy involving Mafia, underground, and political figures.

To secure the keys Thomas tries to sexually entice all the girls, but succeeds only in getting the sexually frustrated Claude romantically involved with him. She’s currently in a lesbian relationship with Joyce. All the while the girls are experiencing trouble in their real-life while trying hard to earn money for the high tuition. They are also fretting over their love woes and having to deal with the mysterious Thomas, who is always snooping around. But they practice their acting craft with great passion and love for the theater, as their teacher demands of them.

It results in a chilling tale, but one that leaves a lot of question marks as to how the story ends. The acting is crisp and the film style is original and spellbinding.

REVIEWED ON 5/17/2002 GRADE: B +

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”