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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 24 September 2006
This film isn't for everybody. When I saw it recently at the National Film Theatre, more people walked out over the course of it's 3+ hours than I'd ever seen at a cinema screening, not out of offense but out of boredom. To begin with, it feels loose and airy and virtually plotless as the two title characters encounter each other and gradually become inseperable. As they begin their odyssey, the film tightens up and kicks in to a series of repetitions of a bizzare scene Celine and Julie are drawn back to again and again. I've read reviews which would suggest that this is a surreallist film but, far from being completely irrational, it is shot through with meaning - it's themes are friendship, childhood and memory, coming to terms with the past; and then there's always the strange mystery story unfolding directly on the screen.

It isn't the sort of film that will effortlessly entertain you - the viewer is expected to take a few steps to meet it: it requires a commitment that few other films do in terms of suspension of disbelief, emotional involvement, not to mention the sheer time it takes. If you feel ready though, I'd suggest a darkened room, phones turned off, watch it from beginning to end. There's a good chance you'll find it as delightful as I did.
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on 10 January 2007
I've never done reviews before but feel compelled to write something about this glorious film, which i saw at the NFT last year. As we sat down to watch and then realised it was over 3 hours long, my girlfriend and I agreed to give it an hour or so before nipping out to get something to eat as planned.

Try as we might, it just proved impossible as the narrative, although at times bordering on painfully slow, gripped us both with the question of what was going to happen to the women, their relationship, and in that house! There are a lot of surreal aspects to this film but that doesn't make it irrational, rather it draws you in and, if willing, makes you think about the various pictures, objects and characters and their relation to each other, as well as the nature of reality.

A lot of the difficulty with watching this film comes during large, slow-moving scenes in the middle, but if you persevere as we did, you are rewarded with an increasingly fascinating and amusing finale in which the narrative becomes progressively quicker and the scenes ever stranger.

In the end, the desire to work through the story provided our incentive to stay, and i'm so glad we did; the twist at the end as well as one of the most sublime pictures in a film i've seen making it, for me, a captivating experience.

Against my expectations, I loved this film, and hadn't been so enraptured by a movie since seeing Cinema Paradiso (though for very different reasons).
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on 2 February 2008
Even by the French New wave's standards, director Jacques Rivette's films come across as, shall I say..'Unique'.
Which is probably the reason he isn't as well known as the other New Wavers, such as Godard and Truffaut.

Yet surely fans of the French New Wave are actively looking for films that are a little strange and obtuse aren't they? If that person is you, then I wholeheartedly recommend that you give this film a try.

Celine and Julie meet for the first time at Montmartre. They suddenly end up sharing everything, life, flat, fiance, job, everything. On discovering a magic sweet, they find themselves participating in a film within a film. A young girl has been murdered and the duo must piece together the clues to find the culprit and save the girl. (if that plotline isn't the embodiment of genius, I don't know what is).

Apart from the baffling, magical plot, Celine and Julie works due to the natural chemistry of its leading ladies, Dominique Labourier and the late Juliet Berto. Just watching them impersonating each other during several awkward moments is a joy to behold.
But what resonates most is how Rivette's camera seamlessly enters these characters lives. The viewer almost becomes a third member of this team. As they piece together the plot, we are just as confused as they are.
Then there are the visuals. All hazy loveliness and sweet dreams, this is a place that lies somewhere past the end of the rainbow.

They sure don't make them like this anymore.
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on 23 July 2007
I am so grateful for Film-Four for showing this rarely seen masterpiece, which has hopefully brought this film to a wider audience.

It takes some patience and a great deal of dedication to watch for the first time, but if you can make the effort, each viewing after just gets better.

As reviews often point out, it's rather like an adult version of Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking glass, of which there are echoes throughout, and you never quite know what is real and what is hallucination. To be honest, it doesn't really matter, because the film is a triumph of ideas and imagination over rigid structure and stifling plot devices.

The early 70s setting seems to add to that feeling of hallucinogenic fantasy and illusion, and of a less cynical era when anything seemed possible. It's definitely not for everyone, but if you stick with it, Celine and Julie will take you on a far more satisying ride than any US blockbuster.
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on 16 January 2007
This is a brilliant, wonderful film. I have never seen a film more hilarious, enjoyable, charming and magical. Quite possibly the best film ever made. This is a million times better than anything from Hollywood. The two women gradually piece together a Henry-James-style story in which they play the nurse. They eventually subvert this story. There are themes of friendship, earth magic, feminism, and even socialism... But it still retains a magical, Alice in Wonderland quality. All on a golden afternoon...
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on 20 October 2006
On first viewing I wasn't sure just how much I actually liked this film, but the characters are so memorable (if slightly annoying at first, particularly Julie's repetoire of squeaks, squawks and yelps!) that I just had to watch it again.

There is actually a lot more going on here than is first apparent, but you have to be receptive to it, and patient - as with all of Jacques Rivette's films. You won't get a 'quick fix' from a film like this, but you will get something much deeper if you give it a chance.

Like Tarkovsky, Bergman and Bela Tarr, this is the kind of film that repays patience, and can have a profound effect...
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VINE VOICEon 22 June 2009
Loved this film.It's a sort of glorious,silly romp full of spirit and joie de vivre,with a feel of the 60s, but filmed in the 70s Montmartre.The leading actresses improvise a lot without a plot,creating dialogue.There is another house with a parallel universe feel to it where the actresses have to play a role and they seem to feel there is a kind of plot going on.They dress as nurses and suck a magic sweet.They have to kidnap a young girl who is in danger. They end up boating on a lake.A treat!Rivette's little bonbom came after he did an experimental film,Out1,which lasted for 13 hours.This was a wonderful doodle but it gives his own impression of a play-within-a film,the nature of the imagination and memory,the creativity of play.Combining Henry James and Alice-in-Wonderland.
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on 28 January 2017
Jacque Rivette at his best. He keeps us guessing. Are they on drugs? What is the nature of their relationship? Who are those people in the other house? Which story is it by Henry James that they keep on observing and then subverting? How did they manage to get away with remaking this as Desperately seeking Susan without crediting the original creators. The actresses in this definitely 'venaient en bateau' (were inspired and swept away by the story). Magic included. Prepare to be rescued from your nuclear family by lunacy and creativity.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 February 2015
The film opens with Julie [Dominique Labourier] sitting on a park bench reading a book of magic spells when Céline [Juliet Berto] woozily staggers across the park and begins dropping various items [in similar manner to Lewis Carroll's White Rabbit]. Intrigued, Julie follows Céline around Paris, What follows is a kind of supernatural mystery thriller as the pair share a flat and seem to drift in and our of a surreal otherworld which plays like the dream sequence in the much later Twin Peaks.
The film never moves out of slow pace and it is so easy to give up on it, but stick with it and you end up being sucked into a strange alternate reality as they enter a house and try to unravel the mystery it holds. Strangely the 193 minute film on the first disc seems overlong, but having sat through it, it now seems that to have shortened it would have destroyed the film. The other disc is just as bizarre as the film itself having some documentaries and other bonus material.
This is a film that will definitely not suit the majority and plods along making it unsuitable for most adventure fans. The budget seems low and its almost like Twin peaks meets Big Brother. Lots of time spent apparently going nowhere, but it is cleverly done. A solid **** rating.
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on 6 October 2007
At first I found it hard to get into and had to watch it in two sections as I got lost after the first 90mins (it is a whopping 192 mins - I say whopping as I have a short attention span!). The second part I watched was easier as the plot sort of clicked. I would highly recommend this film - it is visually beautiful and well worth sticking with.
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