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Genealogies of a Crime

Posted by martinteller on January 23, 2014

Solange (Catherine Deneuve) is an attorney known for taking up lost causes.  She has recently lost her 20-year-son, nonetheless she agrees to represent René (Melvil Poupaud).  René is accused of murdering his aunt Jeanne (also Deneuve)… he claims it was the Franco-Belgian Psychoanalytic Society, of which Jeanne was a member.  The only witness is another member of that group, Georges Didier (Michel Piccoli)… and he’s crazy.  Solange digs into Jeanne’s diaries, a case history of René and his odd behavior.

There’s probably more to the story, but I threw in the towel after an hour.  It’s funny that out of the 10 Raoul Ruiz movies I’ve seen (in a career that produced somewhere around 100), the most successful are the longest: Mysteries of Lisbon and Time Regained (although the short The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting is intriguing as well).  It’s as if he needed the extra space to really build his puzzles and let the mood breathe.  When constrained to a conventional feature length, he tends to flounder between establishing some kind of narrative and playing his usual games.  The story here doesn’t satisfy because it’s too rambling.  Although not particularly hard to follow — despite layered flashbacks with flashbacks — it’s difficult to get a grasp on, and it’s clear that the “plot” of the movie is only a vehicle for something else.

But that something else is elusive, too.  Ruiz can be a tough nut to crack, and it’s hard to tell what he’s getting at besides some satirical jabs at the psychoanalysis industry (the FBPS has a “rival” group and their representatives mock each other like kids on the playground).  Somewhere in here is something about storytelling and something about switching and/or merging identities, but the film is so unengaging that it was difficult for me to give a damn.  The cinematography is lovely as always, with Ruiz’s typical grand camera movements and rooms stuffed with odd details.  And the actors seemed to be doing a pretty good job of handling some confounding material.  There’s just wasn’t enough of a hook here… Ruiz’s gamesmanship is more tedious than inviting.  Rating: None (incomplete)


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