dr. cédric kahn
st. sophie guillemin, charles berling, arielle dombasle, robert kramer (I)

There is a funny scene in L'Ennui where Martin, in growing desperation, smashes a phone against the wall, only to rush off and find another phone with which to immediately call back his elusive lover. The scene captures the oddly pathetic humour of a man obsessed, and indeed phones play a strong role in the entire film, as does tireless interrogation, deep suspicion and knowing participation in one's own desperation (as a philosopher, Martin is profoundly pedantic). Once his interest is piqued in the dead artist's model, Martin cannot help projecting his own ennui onto Cécilia, nor can he realise his own emptiness is being questioned. The pleasingly direct ambiguity of Cécilia, whose clothes plonk onto the floor as soon as she walks into Martin's flat, is reminiscent of the classically literary femme fatale like Henry Miller's Mona, or any of Renoir's subjects. The balancing role played by Martin's ex wife is merely another canvas for his obsession, and he is tirelessly tactless in his detail. A film about obsession and boredom ultimately takes on some of those qualities, and beside the consistent pacing and abrupt punctuation of rushes to the phone, and indeed some quietly simple cinematography, there is ultimately not a lot in L'Ennui to connect with beside a story of one man's inability to connect and importantly relate to his lover or the people in his life. Which is of course the point, and Cedric Kahn has done well to transpose this theme from Moravia's tale of bourgeois listlessness into modern Paris.

Rino Breebaart
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Another L'Ennui review by Huan Tzin Goh

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