From an unhappy awareness of the world – argued by a litany of tragic experiences – what can we do in the cinema? A few masterpieces of melodrama answer the question. Oury Milshtein, who spent around forty years working as a production manager in this profession, decided, at the venerable age of 66, to tinker with his own in the first person, in a film that is all the more admirable that he gives justice to misfortune without an ounce of pathos. A tenuous work, therefore, but of an unsuspected magnitude, in that it supposes courage, in that it provides emotion, in that it shares, ultimately, the point of view on the world of a man who cannot be reduced either to the insults he has experienced or to their naturalization by a film genre (neither melodrama, nor diary, nor family film).
This means that, fundamentally, Milshtein gropes in search of himself, even more – as he admits in the interview he gave us – than the thought of a film as an object of art and public display was absent throughout. A stunning admission which makes the film a sort of unprecedented theoretical object akin to art brut, a real challenge to theories of creation. A unique experience, for this very reason, is offered to us. It would be, in this case, that of a man whose life has been stolen, not exclusively no doubt, but with enough persistence for him to come to wonder to what extent he himself has persisted in his existence, to what extent, to get to the end of things, he will have lived in his own name.
Let’s examine here, in a block which we apologize for offending the fluidity of the film, the Erinyes who focused on the fate of Milshtein, with these snakes hissing over their heads. Parents first. The father, a Bessarabian Jew, who became a recognized painter, was constantly on the run. The mother, a Persian Jew, first paratrooper in the Israeli army, is as tough as stone. They meet in Israel, settle in France, have a child, separate immediately, leave their son in distress, as if abandoning their inadequacy. There will then be the two women, one Jewish, Jocya, the other not, Bénédicte, whose companionship will have to be mourned, four children who are not necessarily a family, a teenage daughter as beautiful as the day consumed by leukemia, a companion finally, the photographer Kate Barry, who defends herself from the window.
Speaking through the dead
So much loss. So much mourning. So much pain. At least for what we can guess and on which the director, precisely, does not dwell. How can we fill in what we have been denied and what we lack? How can we continue to live when life itself is lacking? How can we ever come together after fate has dismantled us? This is what the film, if not answers, at least helps. Doing it, moreover, with rare elegance, a supreme art of opportunism, of connection, of freedom. There is a part of the device there. Milshtein invites the whole family to his home to watch the film of his first marriage and talk about it over a filmed meal. The most Allenian part of the film emerges here, starting with this wedding film which attests that Enrico Macias, father of his first wife Jocya, did everything necessary to take the place of this discreet husband, a good thing natural for a Jewish father, who is also roundly yelled at by his own wife, forgotten at the synagogue. For your wedding , before being a film, is the song written by Enrico on the occasion of his daughter’s, which they performed as a duet on all television sets, and whose radiantly incestuous subtext is surprising Again.
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