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Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Yves Montand plays the world-weariest Communist agent, a Spanish exile now based in France, in Alain Resnais’ famous film. He’s constantly on the move; crossing borders under assumed names; arguing arcane ideological points & strategy with aging Party Line stalwarts; bedding radical chic chicks like Geneviève Bujold (while a heavenly choir sings on the soundtrack) and leaving with a case of terrorist explosives; then barely having time to attend to Ingrid Thulin, his long-suffering wife. Resnais gets a chance to stage some unsettling Spy vs Spy surveillance activities in plain sight, but the characters & plotting look terribly threadbare. Yet there’s a certain grim fascination in seeing how Montand’s strict fidelity to a process he no longer believes in gets mirrored in Resnais glum adherence to New Wave stylistic tics that no longer resonate for him.

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