Esther Kahn

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7398
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Postby Sabin » Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:44 pm

Thanks.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

User avatar
Johnny Guitar
Assistant
Posts: 509
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 5:14 pm
Location: Chicago

Postby Johnny Guitar » Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:18 pm

Nice.

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7398
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Postby Sabin » Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:44 pm

I know that there was some form of discussion re: this film some years ago with Johnny Guitar among others heralding it as some form of masterpiece. I'm still digesting it but wow. What an astonishing piece of work.

Desplechin creates movies that feel remembered while watched. His use of cuts and dissolves almost serve to eradicate the Now. I'm not as much a fan of Kings & Queen (thought Amalric's story is amazing) as I was A Christmas Tale, but in Eshter Kahn it feels at the service of something more. Esther Kahn is a movie remembered but of such period detail and mise-en-scene that it also feels bracingly immediate, serving to plunge us into the alien perspective of this young actress steadily becoming less and less vacuous. It's a long film but I don't know what I would cut in this - for me - out-of-body experience.

Summer Phoenix's performance is strange. ly blank. ly beautiful. ly evocative. ly amateurish. ly everything. I feel like Phoenix's performance is beyond good or bad and is just there. What Desplechin wants is a sounding board from the planet, and rather than simply contenting himself to photograph a blankly doe-eyed ingenue, he guides her towards something stranger. She is unnatural, sing-songy, of the moment, and the moment is oft-random. And guided by Desplechin's frenetic style (more at ease here, though still more than will to chop Eric Gautier's glorious cinematography), Phoenix is superlative in the damnedest way. I can understand some detesting her acting here though.

Rather than showing Esther fill with experience and grow before her own eyes, it is something that merely occurs in her life. She gazes down at her broken hymen as if it were notes at the end of a production. Not until her heart is broken does she truly feel something, and the end of the play feels like an unsettling set-piece where the actress cannot be let off the stage for fear or her departure or her own safety, forcing her to keep performing despite her pleas that she doesn't know how to act, she can't go on. If this sounds very standard, it is not. Because Esther Kahn is a movie that refuses to glorify her occupational transition into prominence, the young woman herself actively filled becomes incredibly unnerving to behold.

I'm sorting out my thoughts on Esther Kahn. The DVD I watched it on was genuinely shitty with little black holes clearly sucking the details out of a film that projection would render sumptuous. I have no difficulty calling it my favorite Desplechin to date, which is high praise indeed. The only phrase I can think of is "some form of masterpiece." What exactly, I don't know.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


Return to “2000 - 2007”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest