L’ENFANT SECRET

L’ENFANT SECRET
Dir. Philippe Garrel, 1979
France, 92 min.
In French with English subtitles

SUNDAY, MAY 3 – 5 PM
MONDAY, MAY 11 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, MAY 19 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, MAY 30 – 10 PM

L’ENFANT SECRET is an unbearably fragile film about unbearably fragile people. Every scene flirts with cinematic disaster, images play with overexposure, dialogue fades away under music taking exposition down with them. This is one of ​several​ films Philippe Garrel made about or with​ long time partner​ Nico, this film focusing on her relationship with her estranged son​,​ who ​Garrel ​has named​​ Swann. In addition to Proust, Garrel also asks his audience to think about Bresson​ when watching this film​, using two Bressonian models as actors, Anne Wiazemsky (AU HASARD BALTHAZAR) and Henri de Maublanc (THE DEVIL PROBABLY). ​The film also deals with Garrel’s shock treatment cure for heroin addiction and the beginning of Nico’s own experience with the drug. ​Despite all these lurid details, the film is not propelled by force of its narrative. ​One could almost experience the film as nothing more than a repetition of ​a moment ​in which two people ​collapse into each other’s arms​. There is a story, ​but as it’s written, it’s so small and weak that it​s emotional and intellectual heart​ ​can only move through the mechanics ​of cinematic compositions like electricity through a circuit.​ Images of violence and despair have more to do with the shapes and shades of grey Garrel expects you to watch him build poetry with throughout the film than it does with a confession from his torrid experience with drugs, cinema, love, and fame – but at the same time, he has plenty to say about that too.

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