Thursday, May 30, 2013

Something in the Air (Rhoades)

“Something In the Air”
Is Whiff of Student Protest

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Truth is, I prefer James Jones’s book “The Merry Month of May,” but this French film titled “Something In the Air” tries to capture some of the aftermath the Parisiene student riots of May 1968.
Note that the film’s original title was “Après mai” -- or “After May.”
In this semi-autobiographical story we meet Gilles (Clement Metayer) who serves as filmmaker Olivier Assayas’s stand-in. Gilles is a politically-driven high school student trying to find himself. Should he become a painter or a filmmaker or a political activist? Well, he likely did a little of each in real life, but on-screen we see him and his friends caught up in the radical leftist fervor that came out of the riots of May 1968.
However it’s now 1971 in the film -- and while Gilles makes speeches to his classmates and mimeographs inflammatory pamphlets and organizes Italian workers one summer, “Something In the Air” lingers on him being dumped by his girlfriend Laure (Carole Combes) for an older man in London and taking up with Christine (Lola Creton) who goes on the lam with him after a security guard gets injured during a night of protest and vandalism.
 “Something In the Air” -- currently playing at the Tropic Cinema -- was selected to compete at the Venice International Film Festival where Assayas won the Golden Osella for Best Screenwriting.
That so, Assayas doesn’t tell us much about student politics in France, other than sharing a few protest songs and homilies about workers’ rights. What the film is really about is finding yourself. Here, that sometimes seems confused with finding romance. But perhaps that’s true of any teenager, French or not.

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