Directed by: Barbet Schroeder
Countries & Regions: France, Luxembourg
Studio: British Film Institute
Length: 111 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 19 September 2011
Cat No: BFIB1040
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Barbet Schroeder’s dark tale follows Stefan (Klaus Grunberg) in his pursuit of an American girl, Estelle (Mimsy Farmer) who he met at a... Read More
Having recently completed his studies Stefan arrives in Paris and offers a moment of pure narrative: “I wanted to burn bridges, all the formulas. I wanted to be warm. I wanted the sun. And if I got burned, well that would be OK.”
From here on he will exist in the present moment; although it is well-to-do English girl Estelle charting a course to the sun – introducing him to marijuana and suggesting he follow her to Ibiza. At this juncture they are looking at a diagram of the human brain and Estelle reports: “creativity and higher consciousness are like the dark, unexplored regions of Africa.” Immediately we see an image of a seabird adrift in a clear blue sky – and Stefan perched upon the white railing of a boat… This is exciting filmmaking and More seems beautifully poised. And though one must make allowances for some off-key dialogue, Schroeder has settled into a relaxed and natural style (possibly influenced by Rohmer) while the Pink Floyd’s music lends an understated flower-child ambience.
But surprisingly things assume a somewhat uneven tone and reading the film becomes problematic. Although Stefan and Estelle do enjoy a period of blissed out isolation on Ibiza – its brilliant, primal indifference rendered by master cinematographer Nestor Almendros – their pursuit of a higher consciousness ends as soon as Stefan follows Estelle into heroin addiction. Perhaps he is motivated by the fragmented nature of their love? Certainly there is a sense that Estelle will remain ‘foreign’ to him. Elsewhere his frustration is simply an inherent misogyny not attributable to any drug. Stefan is also unsettled by Estelle’s association with Wolf (ex-nazi father figure) though on screen he merely demonstrates the limits of the young couple’s freedom and the insidious commercial currency of heroin.
More is necessary viewing for anyone fascinated by the late ‘60’s counter-culture – and catches that unique moment in time when surveying the streets of Paris from an upper floor window resonated with a feeling that the world was young and charged with possibility. While Ibiza’s spectacular coastline and scorched landscape seems a beautiful release – even in death under the wintry sun. And yet, in all probability, Schroeder is telling us something different: a cautionary tale resisting the iconography of Easy Rider, Performance and Zabriskie Point. As such it provides a european perspective on the compromised relationship between drugs and social freedom.