Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Wasting no time in establishing the ideas and moods that would concern him for the rest of his career, Rivette’s feature-length debut is an unnerving tone-poem of Parisian paranoia. A young student, Anne (Betty Schneider), immerses herself in a small network of bohemians by way of her brother Pierre and becomes involved with theatrical producer Gerard, who is staging Shakespeare’s Pericles. But it’s not long before her life falls under the shadow of a devious and powerful—though perhaps nonexistent?—conspiracy, as the film mutates into treatise on art and madness in the City of Light, by turns claustrophobic and agoraphobic. The economic constraints of the production lend this sprawling debut a scrappy energy, and the resulting work, as with so many of Rivette’s subsequent films, find the anxieties and terrors of a vintage noir thriller hiding in plain sight amid the urban everyday.