Va Savoir (2001)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Ensemble Film, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Sep 28, 2001 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 135 min.  |   Countries - Germany, France, Italy  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Todd Kristel

Va Savoir's precise, elegant construction is so impressive that you may enjoy the film even if you don't feel emotionally involved in the story. The acting is first-rate but the self-absorbed, neurotic characters (including one man who forcibly locks a woman in a room and another who drugs a woman to steal her jewelry) aren't particularly likable; Rivette doesn't try very hard to evoke sympathy for them and makes only a limited effort to delve into their psyches. Despite this, Rivette still manages to take too long to introduce the characters and set up their relationships with each other. Once the story gets rolling, however, the way Rivette juggles the characters is quite fascinating. Their relationships and personal desires seem to be in a constant state of flux with each new scene offering the possibility of another reversal. No doubt this relates to the "theater as life" theme that is explored in this film, which includes scenes from a production of a Pirandello play. Indeed, this movie seems somewhat stagey at times due to its general talkiness and long takes, not to mention Camille's (Jeanne Balibar) occasional soliloquies and the contrived screwball ending that is conveniently set in a theater. Fortunately, most of the plot twists are intriguing and the film's bemused tone is appealing even when the characters aren't; however pretentious Va Savoir may seem in theory, it never seems ponderous on the screen. Also, the movie contains several memorable scenes, including Camille's rooftop escape and the drunken duel between Ugo and Pierre (Jacques Bonnaffé). So Va Savoir is worth seeing if you are patient enough to handle its two-and-a-half-hour length.