Director: Jacques Rivette
Year Released: 1969
Theatre director Sebastien (Jean-Pierre Kalfon) is busy working on rehearsals for a production of Racine's Andromaque, but his private issues with his mixed-up wife Claire (Bulle Ogier) create problems on-set. There are really three levels at work here: there's the play, there's the filming of the actors by a TV crew (shot in 16mm) and then there's Rivette's oversight itself (in 35mm), which looks at the interplay between all three levels and shows how the troubled world of the personal can affect job performance/artistic output. The extremely long takes and deceptively 'casual' filmmaking approach are Rivette's way of mimicking 'real life' scenarios - it is essentially an exercise in improvisation both on Rivette's part and his performers, but that approach creates a strangely warm atmosphere, so when Kalfon and Ogier fight and make up and fight and make up and destroy their apartment and then fight some more - getting more extreme as the picture progresses - it almost seems more affecting than it would in a 'traditional' 90-minute picture.