Tuesday, 28 February 2012

FOUR NIGHTS OF A DREAMER - Review By Greg Klymkiw - An inconsequential Bresson film. It had to happen sooner or later. "Four Nights of a Dreamer" is screening as part of the TIFF Cinematheque's major retrospective organized and curated by the legendary programmer James Quandt.

Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971) dir. Robert Bresson
Starring: Isabelle Weingarten, Guillaume des Forêts, Maurice Monnoyer


By Greg Klymkiw

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later, but I have to admit I'm less than pleased to discover that there exists a Robert Bresson film I don't much care for. It's not that the movie is bad, but it feels both inconsequential AND pretentious.

Based loosely on Dostoyevsky's "White Nights", the movie tells the extremely uninteresting tale of Jacques (Guillaume des Forêts), a good-looking mopey-dopey dreamy-pants who wanders Paris seeking the woman of his dreams and to find inspiration for his art - which frankly, is not very good.

One evening he spies a gorgeous young thing on the verge of taking a dive off a bridge. Jacques convinces the lovely Marthe (Isabelle Weingarten) to live. Besides, her reason for wanting to die is rather foolish. Her erstwhile lover promised to meet her and didn't show up and she's beginning to suspect he doesn't love her.

The couple spend the next three nights wandering around Paris as we get flashbacks via their conversation about their backstories - which also aren't all that interesting. Marthe comes from a lower class family and her Mom is hoping to marry her off to a rich man. Jacques, on the other hand, spends most of his time stalking beautiful young women. Jacques's activities are certainly not without merit since Bresson has wisely chosen to populate the movies with mega-babes as the objects of his ocular attention.

The couple eventually falls in love, but do not adequately express their feelings to one another and eventually, they run into Marthe's wayward lover and she dumps Jacques in favour of the rich boy.

Bresson has always focused up characters of considerable complexity and in some cases, they're downright detestable. In spite of the latter, all the characters engender empathy. Neither of the characters in this movie seem especially worth following for 90 minutes.

On the plus side, the movie is extremely well shot and I love Bresson's vibrant colour palette - especially in the nighttime scenes in Paris.

At some point, I plan to re-read "White Nights" and watch Four Nights of a Dreamer again.

It's Bresson, after all. And thankfully, it isn't a stinker.

I'm hoping I'll be more positively disposed at a later juncture, but for now, it merits mild interest. Hardly a ringing endorsement, but they all can't be masterpieces.

"Four Nights of a Dreamer" is screening as part of the TIFF Cinemtheque's major retrospective organized and curated by the legendary programmer James Quandt. Aptly titled "The Poetry of Precision: The Films of Robert Bresson", this and every other Bresson film is unspooling at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto and over a dozen cinemas across North America. The film is screening at TIFF Bell Lightbox Sunday March 11 at 5PM and Wednesday April 4 at 6:30PM. Tickets are available HERE. "Four Nights of a Dreamer" is also available on DVD.