MOVIE #1,615 • 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿 • 05.09.24 ALBERT & AKERMAN: AN AUTEURIST STUDY IN CONTRAST + CONTINUUM It’s impossible to discuss th...

I, You, He, She

MOVIE #1,615 • 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿 • 05.09.24

It’s impossible to discuss the work of Akerman without exploring the idea of slow cinema (and, by contrast, how Pyun’s work is the pure embodiment of its antithesis). Slow cinema — sometimes called "contemplative cinema” — is a genre of art film characterized by a style that is minimalist, observational, and with little or no narrative, and which often emphasizes long takes. Basically, you know it when you see it, or: when you dare to be subjected to it. There have been many a backlash, and backlashes to the backlashes. It’s been criticized and lauded ad nauseam, but it’s probably best viewed as an aesthetic tool you either appreciate or don’t. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste, but I find myself firmly in the pro-slow camp these days.
Akerman had previously dabbled in minimalism in all her short and documentary efforts, but this is her first proper narrative feature and the 87-minute run-time feels much longer than that by design. We meet Julie (played by Akerman) who has just broken up with her girlfriend and isn’t doing well. The film is accompanied by a narration and the voice-over is always ahead of the action by several beats, like we are hearing the thought process in slow-motion before the character acts. For the first third of the film, she rearranges her furniture, writes letters, lounges in the nude, and eats sugar out of a paper bag… like a maniac. I found this terribly unsettling, worse than almost any horror film I’ve seen recently…

Stop eating the sugar! It's not even that she's eating sugar out of a paper bag in various states of undress, but the way she's doing it: compulsively, joylessly — you feel the depression inherent in this act. What’s also interesting is the low-key fourth-wall break at the end. Akerman puts down the spoon and looks directly at the viewer…

Strangely, the logline on IMDb defines the who’s who of the title for us…

I’m sure this had to be gleaned from some official source, but couldn’t the equation also read: “I” = Chantal, “He” = truck driver, “She” = ex-gf (that all checks out)….but the “You,” feels like it should be the audience, not the script. Our position as a voyeur during this very intimate affair seems undeniable, completing this simple square for which the movie lives inside. (This is neither here nor there, but merely food for thought.)

The sex scene is as long as advertised (more or less the last fifteen minutes of the picture) and ‘real’ enough, but still something about it feels so stilted, like she's questioning the very idea of sex, the mystery of it. Coupled with the sexual encounter earlier with the truck driver — I think she gives him a handjob in the cab of his rig, but the angle is off and we don't see her at all — the concept is even more heightened: **Seinfeld voice** what's the deal with sex???

This is a good one. Maybe it’s nothing more than a stepping stone to her next and most famous film (Jeanne Dielman) but it’s certainly stands on its own as an important work. And thankfully the same can be said for Albert Pyun’s sixth work, the incredibly fun Alien from L.A.

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Je Tu Il Elle ([ʒə ty il ɛl]; English: "I You He She") is a 1974 French-Belgian film by the Belgian film director Chantal Akerman. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Teddy Awards, the film was selected to be shown at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2016. It was released on January 10, 1974.


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