A mysteriously linked pair of young women find their daily lives preempted by a strange boudoir melodrama that plays itself out in a hallucinatory parallel reality.
David Watson <[email protected]>
User Reviews: Movies would seem to be the ideal medium for surrealism, yet there are almost no good surrealist movies. There is the venerable "Un Chien Andalou", and there is "Celine et Julie vont en Bateau", and that might well be the lot. "Celine et Julie" has been one of my favorite films since I first saw it in the 1970s, because it is hypnotic, thought-provoking, mysterious, and funny, all at once. Its overall style could be described as magical realism, in which the quotidian life of Paris serves as a mere background for the magical fantasy life of the protagonists, two young women on a psychic journey, which may or may not end in madness ("vont en bateau", which literally means "go boating", is also slang for "go crazy").
The film is made of moments that seem to happen outside of time. In fact, the passage of time, the succession of events in everyday life, becomes an intrusion on the increasingly shared inner life of the two women, and each takes (hilarious) action to prevent those intrusions from continuing. They determine, in effect, that they must return as adults to their childhood in order to change the past. This may sound like a boring Freudian nightmare, but there is no heavy-handed psychologizing in the movie; it is all play, lighthearted yet beautifully composed. The sound-track is particularly effective, almost hyperrealistic, with no background music. The click of heels on pavement, or the motor of a taxi, loom out of the silence as in a dream, which the movie may be, at its heart.
I give this one a 10. You probably know already whether you would like it. If so, see it in a theater if you can, and on video if you must, but don’t miss it.