Last night I went to the NY premiere of the new French film, "La Petite Jerusalem," at the 15th Annual NY Jewish Film Festival at the Walter Reade. The film suffered from the classic pitfalls of French film-making: too much flesh, too many endless (and pointless) stares between characters, too much self-seriousness.
Now don't get me wrong. I love French film. I love the language, I love the themes. Rohmer's a favorite, but Truffaut is too; I could take or leave Godard. This latest, from filmmaker Karin Albou, had no traction. Even after it got going, it mostly offered stills of breasts, necks, and eyebrows. And all the carnality boiled down to the auteur's desire to convince a lay audience that: Religious People Have Sex Too. A lot of it. Constantly. Isn't that controversial, not to say titillating?
Problem is, when their religion--or Kant's philosophy, as in the protagonist's case--restricts their desires to the point when the bursting affection is likely to shower upon the most proximate target, even if that bulls-eye is creepy, older, downright homely, and with a mustache that would have made Tom Selleck in the '70s blush.
So I didn't have the most favorable opinion of the movie. But a woman in the audience in the Q&A after the screening did. The director subjected herself to the audience's response. First though, she told us that she wanted to leave some crucial questions unanswered so that the audience could find its own interpretation, its own moral. A wide-eyed fan raised her hand and began: "I love this film. What a treat to be here with you. Let me ask you one thing: what's your message to us."
Groans, even laughter from other theater-goers. A grandmotherly type with a Long-Island accent feels impelled to intervene: "She just said, she _doesn't_ _have_ _a_ _message_."
I love it when an audience question is so obtuse even the other audience members get indignant. That means the question has reach a new height of banality--or was that the film that provoked the question?