Time Out saysAn extraordinary conflation of avant garde art film and deluxe literary period drama, this ambitious assault on Proust's 15th volume in Remembrance of Things Past constitutes a peculiar triumph. Numerous film-makers have been defeated in the attempt, but exiled Chilean Ruiz never hesitates. His version is a bold, dazzling time trip which nevertheless honours the complexity of the original, and indeed will likely play best to those already familiar with it. The first scene serves notice that this is no ordinary adaptation: as Marcel (Mazzarella) dictates from his deathbed, and the camera pans across mementoes from a life among the French aristocracy at the turn of the last century, the furnishings loom ever larger, as if mocking the author with his own mortality. Ruiz goes on to use the full panoply of surrealist camera tricks. We're plunged into the very thick of French high society, as Marcel remembers his love for Gilberte (Béart), her equally ravishing mother Odette (Deneuve), the controversial Baron de Charlus (Malkovich), and his affair with the composer Morel (Perez). Now, it must be said, it's a toss-up which is more bewildering: the extremely entangled social relations which form the chief topic of everyone's conversation, or Ruiz's elegant, avant garde party tricks. Yet the starry cast helps us keep track (Malkovich is outstanding, even in French), and sustained over a mighty 155 minutes, the film casts quite a spell. Proust watches on, a smile on his face and a tear in his eye; the director' s 'happy confusion' sums it up very well.
Cast and crew
Marie-France Pisier, Chiara Mastroianni, Arielle Dombasle, Edith Scob, Elsa Zylberstein, John Malkovich, Marcello Mazzarella, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Pascal Greggory, Vincent Perez, Emmanuelle Béart, Catherine Deneuve, Ingrid Caven