PLACE DE LA REPUBLIQUE
(director: Louis Malle; cinematographer: Etienne Becker; editor: Suzanne Baron; cast: Louis Malle (Interviewer); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; Janus Films; 1974-France-in French with English subtitles)
“The film is what it is, as Malle simply lets the events unfold naturally.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Louis Malle (“Atlantic City”/”Pretty Baby”/”Alamo Bay”) made this minor feature-length documentary in the fall of 1972 over a period of 10 days. He used the method of “cinema direct” to approach his subject matter. It was shot improvisational style in the Place de la Republique, a busy Parisian street with many shops where he interviewed at random a number of pedestrians. He and his mini-crew (Jean-Claude Laureux, Etienne Becker and Fernand Mozskowicz) openly conducted the man-in-the-street interviews. It plays out as a character study of the ordinary Parisian, who are asked simple questions about their “lives.” A sampling of interviews has him being rebuffed by a beauty who thinks he’s hitting on her, a neighborhood woman glad to be filmed, a retired lady factory worker who is just killing time in the square, an elderly religious fanatic handing out religious tract flyers, an Israeli-born lady street vendor hawking wigs, a parking argument with a cop in the middle, an old timer bragging he screwed 1,500 women, and an unemployed attractive blonde former typist who has expensive needs and money woes and later returns to act as an interviewer for a few passersby. All who were interviewed had some story to tell, and they all seemed to be about mundane problems such as earning a living, health and getting old.
It received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. The film is what it is, as Malle simply lets the events unfold naturally.
REVIEWED ON 10/25/2007 GRADE: B