Dir/scr:Benoit Jacquot. France. 2004. 95mins
BenoitJacquot's Right Now contains a series of incidents rather than what onemight usually call a story - which hits just the right note for this study of ayoung woman drifting without a compass through a tumultuous period of her life.Based on events that happened to Elisabeth Fanger, recalled in her memoir WhenI Was 19 (Quand J'avais Dix-neuf Ans), Jacquot's vivid,non-judgmental film is compelling for the most part, only losing momentum atthose moments when its heroine's own life does.
Featuring astrong performance by Isild Le Besco, Jacquot's visually striking,black-and-white drama should have a strong arthouse and festival presence andrepresents the veteran director's best prospect in some time for exposurebeyond his native France (the film played in Un Certain Regard at Cannes),where it opens later this year.
Le Besco'snameless heroine starts the film recalling in voice-over an incident thathappened to her in 1975. A rebellious art student living with her sister andseparated father, she falls for a young Moroccan (Embarek) at first sight.
Following a bankrobbery in which several people have been killed, the young man and anaccomplice (Duvauchelle) take refuge in the girl's flat; then, together withthe other man's girlfriend (Cordier), the young quartet go on the run. Theirfirst stop is Madrid, where Le Besco's character takes in a bullfight, then toTangiers, where their stolen loot at first enables them to live the high life.
But the vacationcannot last. When the four escape to Greece with a price on their head, thegirl finds herself ditched without money or passport. Unsure what to do, shehalf-heartedly works in a souvenir shop, has an affair with a young Greekwoman, then joins two men for a threesome. Her return to France and everydaylife is undramatic, even anti-climactic, yet is very much in keeping with theevocation of an alienated character who lets the randomness of circumstancedetermine her fate. The overall sense of detachment is accentuated by ourknowing the names of hardly any of the characters.
CarolineChampetier's black-and-white digital photography only rarely has the roughnessoften associated with DV; overall, the imagery has a grainy, textured lookrecalling the camerawork of early 1960s New Wave cinema. The 1970s period isevoked with only a few discreet wardrobe and design touches, with backgroundmaterial such as glimpsed TV clips setting the scene; contemporary archivefootage of the film's various locations are also included.
The film reliesheavily on Le Besco's presence, and occasionally the pressure shows. The partis hard to pull off, partly because her character is so close to the one sheplayed in Cedric Kahn's Roberto Succo - another gauche gamine out of herdepth and enthralled by a dangerous-living man.
Her characterhere is less naive, more enthusiastically amoral than in Kahn's film, but LeBesco is at her best in the first half. Among a sensitive, sparing-deployedcast, Embarek is sympathetic as the increasingly guilt-ridden boyfriend, whileup-and-coming Duvauchelle is a troubling presence as his increasingly volatilesidekick.
Prod co: Natan Prods
French dist: Pyramide
Int'l sales: FPI
Prods: GeorgesBenayoun, Raoul Saada
Prod des/costumes: AntoinePlatteau
Ed: Luc Barnier
Main cast: Isild LeBesco, Ouaussini Embarek, Nicolas Duvauchelle Laurence Cordier