Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jane Birkin, Sergio Castellitto, André Marcon, Jacques Bonnaffé, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Hélène de Vallombreuse, Tintin Orsoni, Vimala Pons, Mikaël Gaspar,Stéphane Laisné, Dominique D'Angelo, Hélène De Bissy, Pierre Barayre, Marie-Paule André, Julie-Anne Roth, Elodie Mamou, Laurent Lacotte, Marie Vauzelle
Written by: Jacques Rivette, Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent, Sergio Castellitto, Shirel Amitay
Directed by: Jacques Rivette
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 84
Date: 09/07/2009

Around a Small Mountain (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Clowning 'Around'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The former French New Waver Jacques Rivette is one of my favorite living filmmakers; he normally makes lengthy movies with room for lots of exploration, romance and mystery, even if none of the results are very conventional. His Va Savoir, from 2001, was one of his lightest works to date, and it was 154 minutes in its short version.

But Rivette's new one, Around a Small Mountain, is only 84 minutes, and it feels as if it's missing something. An Italian motorist Vittorio (Sergio Castellitto) stops to help a stranded French woman, Kate (Jane Birkin), and learns that she's a member of a circus. He follows her and begins hanging around, befriending some clowns and a young woman who has grown up in that environment. He helps out wherever he can, but nothing major happens. He also appears to have fallen in love with Kate, but little comes of this. Kate mostly sulks about her mysterious past.

It's not that this is a bad film; it has most of Rivette's usual touches, and it's charming, but it just seems to go by too fast without settling on anything.

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