Director Philippe Garrel’s new French film Jealousy follows principal character “Louis,” (Louis Garrel) struggling with his women, his daughter, and his passion for acting.
The film begins as Louis quietly argues with his significant other, “Clothilde,” (Rebecca Convenant) as his daughter “Charlotte” (Olga Milshtein) listens from her bedroom. Although Charlotte begs him to stay, Louis walks out anyway. Flashbacks reveal happier, yet telling, times in their tiny apartment. With Clothilde giving up her dream of acting to support their family, tension and resentment boils to the surface. As Louis daydreams of being an actor, Clothilde is the one coming home late at night, tired from her less-than-satisfying office job.
Eventually the stress of their relationship causes Louis to leave Clothilde for another woman – another failed actress, “Claudia” (Anna Mouglalis). But much like Clothilde, Claudia is unable to land any acting gigs and gradually becomes more and more miserable. And Clothilde is never seen in the film again. You see Louis with Claudia and Louis visiting Charlotte, but Clothilde vanishes for the remainder of Jealousy. All of these circumstances and failed relationships lead Louis down a dark path, eventually to the point of self-harm. He seems to love and have a good relationship with his daughter and sister, but his unhealthy relationships to failed actresses cause him to spiral. While he hangs on as a wannabe actor, the other women need a source of income to live. Like Clothilde, they get jobs, or like Claudia, they get lovers.
I suppose you’re supposed to feel sorry for Louis who’s in the grip of these faithless relationships, but it is a confusing mix of nonfiction and fiction. Occasionally, another woman named “Esther” (Esther Garrel, Philip Garrel’s daughter) pops up, making Louis and Esther siblings. The disconnect makes it difficult to sort out what is actually happening in the story. That being said, it’s also very beautiful. Filmed in black and white, Jealousy is set in a timeless Paris. It’s some kind of 20th Century Bohemia that could have taken place anywhere from the 60s to the 2010s. It was beautiful to look at, but unfortunately, failed to make any sense.
Review © Jan Lisa Huttner (8/28/14)
Top Photo: Philippe Garrel directs Jealousy
Photo Credit: Distrib Films
Q #1: Does Jealousy pass the Bechdel Test?