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Leos Carax's first feature was acclaimed as the greatest debut in French cinema since Godard's Breathless.
Widely acclaimed as the greatest debut in French cinema since Godard's Breathless, Carax's prodigiously beautiful Boy Meets Girl gets its first screening in Toronto in two decades, making tonight one of the mandatory cinephile outings for the summer. Dumped by his girlfriend Florence and faced with imminent military service, the heart-sick Alex (Denis Lavant) wanders the streets of Paris before faking his way into a party thrown by a strange American socialite. There he falls in love with sad-eyed Mireille (Mireille Perrier), a suicidal model who tap dances to stave off the depression she has experienced since her boyfriend deserted her via a message delivered by intercom. (As always with Carax, despair gives way to drollery: in a tableau worthy of Tati, a bed crawling with babies replaces the usual party perch for coats.) With its wittily knowing title and impeccable New Wave atmosphere — a plenitude of pinball machines, shoplifting forays, and nocturnal rendezvous by the Seine — Carax's moody "three nights of a dreamer" is suffused with a youthful sense of loss and longing. Fêted upon its release by such critics as Jay Scott, Serge Daney and Jonathan Rosenbaum as marking a renaissance in French cinema, Boy Meets Girl was recently celebrated in The New Yorker as "ecstatic cinema and ecstatic living join[ed] together" (Richard Brody).