“I have to say,” Pedro Costa remarked in a 2014 interview about Horse Money, “[that] this film owes a lot to Not Reconciled. It doesn’t compare. It’s a film I always love more and more . . . it’s the most violent, concrete piece of present you can have on screen.” Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s first major film introduced their grippingly sparse, elliptical style to international audiences. Adapted from Heinrich Böll’s 1958 novel Billiards at Half-Past Nine, Not Reconciled brought an intense sense of the present to the narrative of three architects reckoning with their family’s traumatic wartime history. “You cannot place the characters except in those bureaus, post offices, or hotels,” Costa insisted about the film. “It’s never the past.”
Pedro Costa, France/Portugal, 2001, digital projection, 18m
French with English subtitles
It was from Ozu that Costa claimed to have gotten the idea of “making a domestic, neighborhood cinema and trying to concentrate on small things.” Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, however, were the filmmakers on whom he put that idea into practice. A companion piece to Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?, 6 Bagatelas shows the aging couple in a more relaxed domestic setting than the full-length film: hanging out, puttering around, and drifting into and out of their work. Over the course of the movie’s 18 minutes, you can see Costa developing and refining his strategies—already magnificently worked out in In Vanda’s Room—for catching the rhythms of domestic life.