Combustible Celluloid
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With: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas, Pierre Barbaud, Bernard Fresson
Written by: Marguerite Duras
Directed by: Alain Resnais
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: French, English, Japanese with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 06/10/1959

Hiroshima mon amour (1959)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Meet Acute

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Alain Resnais' feature debut was praised almost unanimously upon its release and became known as an all-time classic just a few years later. Barely anyone has bothered to dispute it. It's a beautifully elegant film -- written by the French playwright Margeurite Duras -- and its plea against the atomic bomb is truly heartfelt, but it has an icy deliberateness to it, and a lack of spontaneity. A French actress making a film in Japan meets a Japanese architect and they share a brief fling. She tells her gruesome story; she fell in love with a German soldier at the end of WWII and he was killed just hours before the liberation. As a result, she was locked in a basement for years. After Resnais finishes his preaching, nothing remains but the painful final hours of the two lovers in late-night Hiroshima. These final scenes resonate with a touching beauty. The new Criterion disc comes in a gorgeous black-and-white fullscreen transfer, with lots of extras and a commentary track by critic Peter Cowie. Best of all is the music and effects track, which allows the viewer to dump the movie's heavy, heavy dialogue.

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