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"5×2" (2003) The concept of telling a story backwards is not, at this point, a boldly original one; Harold Pinter had done it with "Betrayal" decades ago, and Francois Ozon‘s "5×2," which like the Pinter play shows the dissolution of a relationship over the years, starting at the end and picking up with the first meeting, followed right on the heels of both Christopher Nolan‘s "Memento" and Gaspar Noe‘s "Irreversible." But Ozon’s piece is defined not just by its tight formalism — as the title might suggest, 5 self-contained scenes of roughly equal length — but by what it doesn’t show, what’s absent in the gaps of months and years that we don’t see.
Beginning with the divorce hearing of Gilles (Stéphane Freiss) and Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi), after which they go to a hotel for one final fuck, we track back through a dinner party that shows their relationship in its final fractures, the birth of their child, their wedding night, and their first meeting, each sketched out with the director’s fine ability to say a lot with a little, and never feeling gimmicky in its structure.
After doing the rounds on Vo D for a few weeks, where many of you will have seen it, Sarah Polley‘s "Take This Waltz" starts to roll out in theaters from tomorrow, and we can’t recommend it enough; it’s a messy, sometimes frustrating film, but a deeply felt, beautifully made and wonderfully acted one, and we named it last week as one of the best of the year so far.
It is not, however, recommended as a date movie, fitting into a long cinematic tradition of painful examinations of broken, decaying, collapsing or dead relationships.
"Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" (1958) It might be a little bowdlerized by censorship demands in its adaptation for the screen (star Paul Newman and writer Tennessee Williams criticized the changes to the film version), but "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" still stands as one of the finest portrayals of an unhappy relationship from a writer who specialized in such things.
In a pair of electrifying performances, Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor play Brick Pollitt and his wife, Maggie ‘the Cat.’ He’s an alcoholic former track star who spends his time drinking himself into a stupor, she’s frustrated and teasing.
Williams and Gosling are unforgettable and “Blue Valentine” a simple story masterfully told.
Of course, it’s a subjective and somewhat random selection, and certainly not definitive, so if we’ve missed your favorite, you can speak your piece in the comments section below.
While the former received an Academy Award nomination, the latter was inexplicably shut out, but not to worry, “Blue Valentine” is hardly an awards-driven picture, opting instead for an emotionally hectic, complex and naturalistically acted record of spouses fighting to reignite a passion that has tragically eluded them.
Cutting between the youthful past of promise and possibility and a crushing present where even the air feels hesitant to intrude on some of the conversations, Cianfrance lays bare all the things people choose not to talk about until you beg him to stop.
It’s like the Two-Face story from "The Dark Knight," done in a twisted romantic comedy style.
As fucked up as the romance at the heart of "Crazy Love" might sound, it’s also oddly uplifting, in the weirdest way possible.
It’s a bleak film, to be certain — as with Noe’s, the ‘happiness’ of the ending/beginning is undercut by what we’ve seen coming before/after.