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A warning to the curious...
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.