Jacques Rivette's UP, DOWN, FRAGILE (1995)
A new restoration of French master Jacques Rivette’s romantic musical, one of his most gentle and enchanting films.
Mar 15, 2023, 7:30 PM
2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057, USA
Up, Down, Fragile (Haut bas fragile)
directed by Jacques Rivette
1995, 169m, France, DCP
L.A. premiere of a new 2K restoration
One of French master Jacques Rivette’s most gentle and enchanting films, this summer romance-musical is inspired by the taxi-dance halls of 1920s America, where gentlemen would visit and pay to dance with “a bevy of pretty, vivacious, and often mercenary” women. The women in question are the upper-class Louise (Marianne Denicourt), recently awakened from a coma; Ninon (Nathalie Richard), a street-smart parcel courier; and Ida (Laurence Côte), a university librarian in search of her birth mother. As Rivette weaves typically mysterious plot threads and pursuits through vérité Parisian streets, he also revels in the full physicality and vulnerability of his actresses, who have never been better—and who, in lovingly amateurish fashion, collaborated on much of the film’s original music (and dialogue) themselves. The movie also features Anna Karina as a lounge singer, a nod to the film’s meta-musical forebear A Woman is a Woman, whose lineage it joins as a bright and playful work of art. In French with English subtitles.
Special thanks to Tim Lanza (Cohen Film Collection) and Bobby Shepard.
“What’s fascinating in this film is the way the characters circle around each other and position themselves in expectation, not only in the dance numbers but in the film as a whole… Showing the whole body (as Howard Hawks did) [is] perhaps the key aspect of Rivette’s filmmaking… The question of how a musical works, how to live in a musical, and how a fake city is like a real city: these are the rules and gravitational pull of Haut bas fragile.” -Miriam Bale, Senses of Cinema
“The film’s 'musical' essence stems less from the numbers than from everything leading up to and away from them; this isn’t a musical to replace real life, but a musical to enhance it, dead moments and all. For the first time in Rivette’s cinema, one finds a Paris virtually free of anxiety (though it still has its secrets)... It’s Rivette’s acute sense of what steps need to be taken to approach or retreat from a euphoric musical moment, whether romantic or friendly — how to find such steps, how to execute them, and above all how to place them in the midst of an ordinary summer afternoon or evening in Paris. In other words, not only a sense of what utopia might feel like, but also how it might be organized.” -Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader