Published Jul 08, 2010French filmmaker Alain Resnais is a legend. He was a key figure in the French "new wave" cinema period that emerged in the '50s and '60s. Classics like Hiroshima, Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad are not only some of the most influential films of all time, but also personal favourites. The man is also almost 90 years old, but, as impressive as it is that he was able to put a new film together at all, Resnais has completely lost the plot.
His latest, Les Herbes Folles, starts promisingly enough. A woman (Sabine Azema, Resnais's live-in girlfriend) is about to have a seemingly meaningless experience that will go on to change her life drastically. She buys some shoes she doesn't need and has her purse stolen on the way home. A man (Andre Dussollier) finds her wallet discarded in a parking lot sometime later and returns it to the police. When the woman calls to thank the man for returning it, he's disappointed she doesn't want more from this exchange. He then stalks her and she in turn responds to his charming, yet illegal, advances. If this seems a stretch, that's because it is.
Les Herbes Folles is being lauded as a dreamlike experience that's as insightful as it is visually stimulating. Compliments like these characterize his earlier work perfectly, but feel entirely misguided when applied to this film. New wave movies didn't have to make sense at the time; they were just trippy, visual feasts you could formulate your opinions on as to what they were essentially saying.
This doesn't work in a contemporary setting, however. And watching these characters make move after senseless move is not only confusing, but incredibly infuriating. (E1)