Nocturne Indien by Alain Corneau (1989)
The late 80s and early 90s are not necessarily an often cited period in cinema. How come? David Lynch, Abel Ferrara, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Leos Carax, Martin Scorsese and some more had their most creative periods, also directors like Kubrick, Rohmer and Malle delivered some of their best works. Still, when I look back at those years, which, giving my birthdate, should have had a lasting effect on me, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed. It’s like the game grew a bit old and became stale. One reason could be the radical takeover of mainstream and event-driven films that turned cinema into a “harder, faster, better”. As much as I can get a kick out of a Verhoeven or a Spielberg or a Ridley Scott film, the reality is they didn’t age too well and the main reason for it is, imho, their focus on visual “ground-breakery”. With visual effects and tricks getting more and more complex as we speak, the overwhelming sensation of yesterday is the yawning of today. What about formal experimentation, novel and groundbreaking styles of storytelling? Not in the 80s, not too much. But why blame the past? I do wonder what Cuarons “Gravity”, after all one of the critics’ darlings of 2013, will be worth in ten or twenty years from now. I’m inclined to believe: not too much, either. So, maybe it is true, what some are saying. Namely, that the golden, artistic age of cinema ended in the late 70s. Or, like some claim, maybe as early as with the end of the silent movie… but I digress.
All generalization aside, of course there were exceptions of the rule. One of them being this little known, very enigmatic french film, an adaptation of the Tabbuchi novel of the same name. It’s about a man who’s looking for his missing friend. He traces his roots to the place he was last seen: Bombay, India. Yup, it’s the “ultimate cradle of mysticism”-kind-of-India, which acts once more as the object of projection for the western man in search of identity and meaning. The film’s main themes of destiny, duality and suspended reality make it a cross between Lynch and Kieslowski, the two directors I most admired while in my teens. I don’t want to give away too much, but the ending is particularly interesting, playing with the notion of storytelling in a very self-aware, meta-kind of way. It’s also a beautifully shot film of a dark and psychological journey. And it’s a film from the 80s really worth seeing.