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Leos Carax's extravagant romantic fantasy evokes everything from the romantic fatalism of 1940s French cinema to the gaudy excess of Hollywood musicals in its tale of two differently damaged street people (Denis Lavant and Juliette Binoche) who fall into a grand amour fou.
Leos Carax joins us in person for a special Q&A following the screening.
Released in North America as The Lovers on the Bridge almost a decade after its infamous making — the film's frequently delayed shoot, bloated budget, and technical problems earning it a reputation as the Heaven's Gate of French cinema — the amazing Les amants du Pont-Neuf must be seen on the big screen to savour all its mad Caraxian extravagance. Two young homeless people — Alex (Denis Lavant), a semi-autistic drunk who makes his living as a fire eater, and Michèle (Juliette Binoche), an embittered painter going blind — meet on the Pont-Neuf and fall into an amour fou. (Isn't all love crazy in Carax?) Drawing on everything from the romantic fatalism of forties French cinema to the gaudy excess of Hollywood musicals, Les amants tops each spectacular setpiece with an even showier one, culminating in the sequence in which the lovers commandeer a police boat on Bastille Day and go on a water-skiing spree down the Seine as fireworks explode around them — "a consummate moment of romantic delirium" (Dave Kehr, The New York Times). "A movie that explodes in your head for days after you see it ... I'm telling myself to see the movie again before I begin mentioning it in the same sentence as Breathless and Celine and Julie Go Boating as a landmark of French cinema. But there it is" (Robert Horton, Film Comment).
- Leos Carax
- Léos Carax was born in France. He began his career as a film critic and short-film director before making his feature-length debut at age 23 with Boy Meets Girl (84), which marked the first of his collaborations with actor Denis Lavant. His other films include Mauvais Sang (86), Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (88), Pola X (99), a segment in the anthology film Tokyo! (08), and Holy Motors (12).