L’amour fou can explain many an eruptive passion, especially with a cast of emotionally raw, attractive young actors, but it can’t support the dramatic weight co-scripters André Téchiné & Olivier Assayas aim for in this early work. A very young Juliette Binoche is the pretty young thing who is driving men mad, giving it up nightly on stage (in a silly French Blvd farce) and in bed with . . . whomever. (Do French ingenues abandon their clothes so readily in the real world? Or, even more unbelievable, land a cheap five-room Paris flat overnight.) Naturally, when she meets a nice guy (Wadeck Stanczak), she holds off on her favors, but not with his feral roommate, Lambert Wilson, who plays a divinely gifted actor currently debasing himself nightly as an XXX-rated Romeo. The film carefully avoids filling us in on explanatory backstories until Jean-Louis Trintignant’s deep-think theater director makes a belated appearance, which comes too late to parse motivations without making things look foolishly convenient. But by then, Téchiné’s astonishingly fluid, confident technique, and the general erotic charge has grabbed enough of your attention to keep you going.
DOUBLE-BILL: RENDEZ-VOUS nabbed Best Director @ Cannes, but the Téchiné/Assayas writing partnership is more grounded on their follow up pic, THE SCENE OF THE CRIME/’86. In hindsight, SCENE looks like Téchiné’s first masterpiece and was something of a graduation piece for Assayas who then moved on to direct his own stuff.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Those sweeping adagios on the Philippe Sarde soundtrack positively stink of Mahler . . . in a good way.