>last night, in a celebratory spirit to commemorate the termination of all my exams (yaya!), i treated myself to a film at the harvard film archive. exotic and independent films alike convene in that cozy space in the basement of the carpenter center; i’ve seldom gone to watch films there on my own initiative, with the exception of last spring when i experienced the surrealism cine series featured in conjuction with my literature and arts core with professor susan rubin suleiman. right now, the archive is in the midst of a european film extravaganza, featuring the newest and best imports from across the atlantic. i’m the sort of person enthralled with italian for beginners or mostly martha, so understandably, i’m psyched. bring on the subtitles, i say!
here’s the synopsis from the archive website:
Directed by Doroth�e Van Den Berghe
Belgium/Netherlands/France 2002, 35mm, color, 93 min.
With Charlotte Vanden Eynde, Els Dottermans, Frieda Pittoors
Flemish with English subtitles
Muriel, a working-class girl, decides to quit her job at the factory where her mother has worked most of her life and to end her relationship with her boyfriend. She moves to Brussels hoping to find work in an art museum and to engage in more exciting romantic pursuits than small-town life can provide. Van Den Berghe offers a sensitive and strikingly realistic portrait of her protagonist, played with quiet resolve by Charlotte Vanden Eynde. Equally compelling are the portraits of the girl�s older roommate, an aspiring singer who desperately wants to have a child, and the mother back home, who sees her daughter taking chances with life that she herself never dared. Van den Berghe raises thoughtful questions about female identity and the contemporary divide between urban and provincial life.
my friend karl (who was hurrahing his last exams as well) accompanied me last night. it’s amazing how much americans dwell on nudity, when europeans have such a casual approach to it. in this bruxellian film, you have scenes of people urinating, masturbating, naked in a medical setting, showering, and everything in between, yet observed with a camera whose interpretation is incredibly nonchalant and ordinary. it’s not to say that europeans perversely relish in the human body; rather, it’s only that they apparently don’t have the same hangups that occur in hollywood politics. american and european culture differ in so many ways, psychologically and artistically, and this film particularly accentuated those contrasts.
plot-wise, i could sympathize with muriel in many ways. last summer, when i was living independently in boston, i felt similar phases of loneliness, variable direction, and frustration in an unfamiliar, overwhelming urban setting. from involuntarily subjecting myself to my roommates’ love lives to missing my family back at home, the underlying tumult of finding yourself within the complexities of everything is crucial. it made me happy to know i could understand the occasion bits of french spoken in the film, and the guy who played oskar (matthias schoenaerts) was definite eye candy throughout.
after a cappuccino at starbucks and a hummus snacky-snack, i was fully sated, fully pleased, to have finished the semester with such aplomb.