If cinema has its equivalents to the master modernists of music painting or literature then one of the tradition's foremost practitioners is undoubtedly Alain Resnais - and Muriel ou le Temps d'un retour (Muriel or: The Time of a Return) represents one of his earliest and greatest triumphs. In Resnais' two preceding features (the legendary Hiroshima mon amour and Last Year at Marienbad) the master filmmaker pioneered new ways of representing inner reality and emotion; but with Muriel he merged the vicissitudes of his characters' personal pasts and married them to the... traumas of the political present - namely the French war in Algeria. Resnais' film is the story of the middle-aged H''l''ne (portrayed by Delphine Seyrig of Last Year at Marienbad Truffaut's Stolen Kisses and Akerman's Jeanne Dielman) an antique dealer located in the provinicial port-town of Boulogne-sur-Mer who resides amid her wares inside the same flat that serves as her business showroom. Against the backdrop of the past that exists materially in the immediate milieu of the film's action an old lover of H''l''ne's comes to visit - and soon takes up a more permanent residence within her life despite the presence of a suspicious tortured and sexualised stepson who is haunted by a woman a name from his own past in his time in Algiers: Muriel. Scripted by Jean Cayrol the co-writer of Resnais' landmark early short film Night and Fog Muriel is one of the great family films and stands like a cinema landmark as one of the most complex and rewarding films of the 1960s - the richness of which grows with every viewing. [show more]
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