Je t'aime, je t'aime

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Je t'aime, je t'aime
Jetaimejetaime.jpg
Film poster
Directed byAlain Resnais
Produced byMag Bodard
Written byJacques Sternberg
Alain Resnais
StarringClaude Rich
Music byKrzysztof Penderecki
CinematographyJean Boffety
Edited byAlbert Jurgenson
Colette Leloup
Release date
  • 26 April 1968 (1968-04-26)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench
Box office$3 million[1]

Je t'aime, je t'aime ("I Love You, I Love You") is a 1968 French science fiction film directed by Alain Resnais from a screenplay by Jacques Sternberg. The plot centres on Claude Ridder (Claude Rich) who is asked to participate in a mysterious experiment in time travel when he leaves the hospital after a suicide attempt. The experiment, intended to return him after one minute of observing the past, instead causes him to experience his past in a disjointed fashion.

The film was listed to compete at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival,[2] but the festival was cancelled due to the countrywide wildcat strike that occurred in May 1968 in France.

While seldom ranked among Resnais's best works, Je t'aime, je t'aime has received positive reviews since its release. Its synopsis has been cited as an influence on the 2004 Michel Gondry film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.[3][4]

Plot[edit]

Claude Ridder (Claude Rich) is leaving hospital after an attempt at suicide by shooting himself through his heart, when he is asked to participate in a mysterious experiment in time travel by a private research body. They have succeeded in sending mice back unharmed for periods of one minute, but need to send a human back to confirm the subject did actually revisit the past. Claude agrees, but instead of returning promptly as the mice had done, he re-experiences many episodes from his past in a highly disjointed and fragmented manner, in interludes of seconds or minutes.

Claude's observations culminate in his admission – which, throughout the movie, he has frequently dismissed as a fabrication – that he had killed his morbid, sad, and terminally ill life partner, Catrine (Olga Georges-Picot), painlessly by gas poisoning, upon seeing her in her sleep – for the first time in her life – completely happy and without fear. Subsequently, his attempted suicide is shown to emerge from the painful realization that not only can he not live with her, he cannot live without her.

The researchers wait an hour before concluding they will never get him out of the time machine. As they leave the lab, they happen upon Ridder's body on the grass, a gunshot through his heart. Seemingly, in the instant of revisiting his suicide attempt, he has traversed not only time but space as well and broken out of the time machine – as a man who is about to die. As his mortally wounded body is carried inside by the scientists, he opens his mouth in a struggle to speak, and a single teardrop falls down his cheek. His fate – that is, whether or not the "second" suicide attempt was successful – is left ambiguous.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

According to Fox records the film required $875,000 in rentals to break even and by 11 December 1970 had made $450,000 so made a loss to the studio.[5]

Critical response[edit]

Today, Je t'aime, je t'aime is reviewed positively by critics; review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports 83% approval (based on six critics' reviews), with an average rating of 7.5/10.[6] IMDB reviewers gave the film the average rating of 7.2/10.[7] The film made two critics’ top-10 lists in the 2012 Sight & Sound polls of the greatest films ever made.[8]

Penelope Houston, writing in Sight and Sound winter issue of 1969-1070, praised Resnais for the film's editing, saying that "one has never been more aware of Resnais exploring time through timing: matchless editing, an unfailing instinct for the duration of a shot."[9]

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times highlighted the theme of memory in the film, "Claude’s journeys into the past resemble nothing less than memory — fragmented, inconstant, taunting, joyous and heartbreaking. We are, the movie reminds us, what we remember, with a consciousness built from reminiscences that flicker, fade and repeat, flicker, fade and repeat."[10]

After Kino Lorber's blue-ray release of the film in 2015, American film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, "but for better and for worse, Je t’aime je t'aime functions as a first-person narrative, even more than Resnais’ earlier Hiroshima mon amour and his later masterpiece Providence, although we may have some trouble accepting its melancholy and marginal protagonist, a sort of bureaucratic fixture whose professional identity resides in the fringes of the publishing world, as a full-fledged hero."[11]

David Gregory Lawson of Film Comment wrote, "Alain Resnais’s psychologically bruising film maudit is a sci-fi romance that charts a long-term relationship’s evolution from an atypically sullen meet-cute to the bitter resentment only the profound understanding of another human being can breed," and noted the use of time travel as a film device that explores "exploring the obstacles life poses to receiving or displaying affection and for probing the pleasures of solitude."[12]

Leo Gray of The Baltimore Suns summarized the film, "this 1968 film's title, "Je t'aime, je t'aime," translated into English is "I love you, I love you," which suggests that what you are about to watch very well could be a sappy French romance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, director Alain Resnais' film is a futuristic psychological drama and a deep dive into the disturbing nuances of a damaged relationship and the suicidal mind."[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Je t\'aime, je t\'aime (1968)- JPBox-Office". Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Je t'aime, je t'aime". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  3. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (19 March 2004). "A Stylist Hits His Stride (ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND)". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Je t'aime, je t'aime". The Cinematheque. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  5. ^ Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 327.
  6. ^ "Je t'aime, je t'aime on RT". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  7. ^ Je t'aime, je t'aime (1968) - IMDb, retrieved 1 May 2020
  8. ^ "Votes for Je t'aime, je t'aime (1968) | BFI". www.bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Penelope Houston's journals". BFI. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Fragmented Frames of the Love That Was, Taunting Yet Poignant". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Trapped in Time: Alain Resnais' JE T'AIME, JE T'AIME". Jonathan Rosenbaum. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Rep Diary: Je t'aime, je t'aime". Film Comment. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  13. ^ ""Je T'aime, Je T'aime," Directed by Alain Resnais". The Baltimore Suns. Retrieved 1 May 2020.

External links[edit]