(1988)3Craig ButlerWhile ($Jacques Rivette}'s The Gang of Four is not on the same level as his earlier masterpiece, Celine and Julie Go Boating, it is in some ways a good way to introduce people to the work of this one-of-a-kind filmmaker, for Gang is in many ways a "Reader's Digest" version of this director's career. Of course, calling a film that runs more than 2 1/2 hours a "Reader's Digest" version may seem odd -- but not when one considers the length of some of his other works. At any rate, Gang has many of the hallmarks (beyond length) that one associates with Rivette: an unconventional structure, a distinctive approach to filmmaking, scenes that last longer than is typical, a tendency to hint rather than be explicit, a concern more with character than story, the use of a mystery which is not necessarily resolved, paranoia, fiction vs. reality, improvisation, whimsy, sexual intrigue and a fondness for loose ends. It also, as is often the case, is a showcase for some startlingly real performances from a coterie of actresses. While Belle Ogier as the acting teacher, offers the most commanding performance, the work of all the performers is equally, if sometimes more subtly, impressive. If Gang falls a little short of some of Rivette's other work, it is nonetheless a fascinating and rewarding viewing experience.