As Hawker puts it, "Léaud's performance in which his character gradually finds himself out of his depth, devastated, in which a carefully constructed masculinity proves insufficient to the messy demands and challenges placed on it by two women is painful to watch, but it's also fascinating to see him going quietly, as it were." Considering the film's theme the death of a liberated era, as exemplified by the impossibility of a healthy love triangle one cannot avoid feeling that the end of Léaud's character signifies the conclusion of one of recent European history's most volatile and important periods.
Léaud's iconic status figures as an undercurrent in his more recent appearances in films such as Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers (2003), Aki Kaurismäki's La Vie de Bohème (1992), and especially Olivier Assayas's Irma Vep (1996). In casting Léaud as an old French director whose heyday is long past and who is hopelessly trying to create a remake of Louis Feuillade's Les Vampires (1915), Assayas joins the actor in winking sympathetically at the now-idolized and perhaps idealized past he represents a time of general excitement and experimentation, when everything seemed possible and cinema was daring.
JEAN-PIERRE LÉAUD: THE NEW WAVE AND AFTER
Jan. 18Feb. 19, $5.50$9.50
Pacific Film Archive
2575 Bancroft, Berk.