Roughly, the story centres on Proust himself as an old man reflecting on his life, which blurs together with his fiction to form a whole new reality in his mind, as well as an examination of the nature of literature--the relationship between a writer and the characters he creates. As the narrator (Mazzarella) moves through various scenes from the first half of this century, we meet all sorts of colourful characters who talk about everything in minute detail ... and with an almost infuriating vagueness.
Ruiz jams the film with amazing visual trickery, repeating themes and images, very good performances (most notably from Deneuve and Malkovich) and intriguing yet perplexing symbolism. The result is beautiful and evocative--the design is utterly realistic and ethereal at the same time. And the sheer depth and quantity of ideas is almost overwhelming ... even if it's impossible to make any real sense of it without a scholarly understanding of Proust. Yes, it's almost overwhelmingly arty--and rather maddening at that! But if you can disengage the need for coherent plotting and straightforward characters, there are all kinds of riches in here.
[18--adult themes and situations] 13.Dec.99
UK release 7.Jan.00; US release 16.Jun.00
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