There are moments in Wild Grass, the latest work from 87 year old auteur and close compatriot of the Nouvelle Vague Alain Resnais, that smack of brilliance. A work filled intermittently with a characteristically nuanced dryness and a passionate underpining brought forth in primal colours and bizarre, almost surreally comic actions - and that ending is certainly something for the cinematic ages. Yet for all this cinematically decedent hoopla - as well as the touch of a seasoned professional such as Resnais at the proverbially metaphoric helm - Wild Grass tends to plod and splosh around more often than it probably should. At least more than it probably should with Resnais at that so-called wheel.
Not that this is a major downfall for the film (or even a downfall at all!), especially considering those aforementioned smacks of brilliance more than make up for what could have been an otherwise quite tired motion picture - at least under different hands. Wild Grass is a picture that so wants to let loose and fly its own freak flag, even when occasionally hunkered down with Resnais' modernist psychobabble. It is a picture that finally gets its wish in those final few moments of screentime. A gorgeous - and quite infuriating for many I would hazard to guess - mindfuck of an ending. In fact this very ending - this sudden twist of logic so to speak - makes the film at least veer toward the surreal modernism (without the inherent psychobabble this time!) that was Resnais early career.
A sort of post-millennial brothers-in-arms to Resnais' 1961 mindfuck masterpiece, Last Year in Marienbad, the auteur's seventeenth feature-length cinematic endeavor is a neo-Freudian puzzle of a movie about a man obsessed with a woman with which he finds himself entangled after rescuing her stolen wallet, that takes the idea of perceived fantasy (which was the main crux - if ever there were one or even can be one - of Marienbad) and H-bombs it right onto the perceived notion of the romantic comedy - which I suppose in a strange Resnaisian(!?) way this movie is. I suppose what I am trying to say here (with my own post-modern babbling!) is that I really enjoyed this film and all it is trying to do with cinematic tropes and teases. Using colour to inform of mood; taking surrealistic ideas and parlaying them into genre specific doodling; reliving the energy of the Nouvelle Vague and West Bank filmmaking of the late fifties and early sixties. In the end (that batshitcrazy ending one adores so much!) Resnais' Wild Grass, despite its few, albeit insubstantial flaws, is a stunning film from an obvious master of the art. [07/28/10]