Up Down Fragile | Chicago Reader

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For its first hour, this 1994 French feature seems not so much a Jacques Rivette film as Rivette Lite. But as it grows into a critic's giddy appreciation of MGM's Arthur Freed-unit musicals—with mise en scene and decor taking the place of a decent score or physical agility on the part of most of the youthful actors—a genuine sense of charm and euphoria takes over. The film's “musical” essence stems less from the numbers than from everything leading up to and away from them; this isn't a musical to replace real life, but a musical to enhance it, dead moments and all. For the first time in Rivette's cinema, one finds a Paris virtually free of anxiety (though it still has its secrets). Nathalie Richard (the only real dancer), Marianne Denicourt, and Laurence Cote helped write the dialogue for their characters, three crisscrossing heroines who are uneasily trying to come to terms with their pasts. With Anna Karina (a trifle wasted) and (rather graceful in the Gene Kelly part) Andre Marcon. In French with subtitles. 169 min.

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