With its fragmentary scenes and the sumptuous black-and-white palette created by New Wave cinematographer Willy Kurant, "Jealousy" has a dreamy quality, its Parisian characters not rooted in time. Dreams are rarely as languid, though, or as filled with self-conscious posturing, as veteran filmmaker Philippe Garrel's story of love, betrayal and the age-old conflict between artistic integrity and the cost of living.
Conventional dramatic hooks have no place in Garrel's filmography, so it's not surprising that his new movie is more atmospheric than involving, or that the two beautiful bed heads at its center hardly invite emotional connection. Played by Anna Mouglalis and Louis Garrel, the director's son, they're lovers and struggling artists whose dreams turn out to be diametrically opposed.
In his fifth screen collaboration with his father, the younger Garrel plays a version of his grandfather at 30, an actor who leaves his wife for another woman. The director's surrogate is the watchful 8-year-old Charlotte (Olga Milshtein), who pierces the Gallic ennui with her child's-eye view. The only affecting moments involve her, as when Charlotte extols the coolness of Dad's girlfriend, Charlotte's mother (Rebecca Convenant, very good) puts on a brave face or when her father (Garrel) wraps her in his warm coat.
Squaring off over the bohemian ideal, the insistently unpersuasive Garrel leads with his poetically tousled hair, Mouglalis with a voice that recalls Jeanne Moreau and Marianne Faithfull channeled through a pack of chain-smoked Gauloises. Dad's girlfriend, Claudia, is most alive when duplicitous; if the characters had dimension beyond the symbolic, then his delusion that she's "too smart and sensitive" for showbiz might have been poignant.
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes. In French with English subtitles.