Criterion Prediction #152: Rendez-vous, by Alexander Miller
Director: Andre Téchiné
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Wadeck Stanczak, Jean Louis Trintignant, Anne Wiazemsky, Serge Martina
Synopsis: Nina (Binoche) travels from her provincial hometown of Toulouse to Paris in hopes of being a successful actress. However, Nina becomes involved in a mercurial love affair with provocative actor Quentin (Lambert Wilson) while being pursued by a meek real estate clerk, Paulot (Stanczak), who is also smitten.
Critique: There’s a subtle intensity to the work of Téchiné, an aesthetic charge that pulsates throughout his work. Téchiné’s punchy stylistic flair is calibrated with the often energized performances that populate his work. Of course, to talk about Rendez-vous, you have to mention its star and it screenwriter, Binoche and Olivier Assayas, respectively.
In our modern filmic context, the film feels like a mark on a roadmap where Rendez-vous is the starting point that takes us to The Clouds of Sils Maria; the shared DNA of these movies make the metatextual relevance of this film all the more compelling.
On its own, Rendez-vous is an energetic modern love tale that has the momentum recognizable in Assayas’ film while it retains Téchiné’s directorial vigor, which at this time (I maintain that this and Wild Reeds stand as his best) was roiling with creativity. Unlike his predecessors of the nouvelle vague Téchiné’s direction eschewed revisionism tending more toward narratives that attuned to both physical and emotional impulsivity. While writers/directors can often be bogged down in providing a rationale as if it’s their responsibility to justify their characters motives and actions, Téchiné finds weight in the intuitive relationship that impulsive behavior has with time and the gravitas that follows reckless lovers with bouts of passion and obsession. Rendez-vous has a rapid pulse. We traverse from apartments to theatres, burlesque shows, street sides and trains. Its characters make such hasty and irresponsible decisions, it veers on hyperbolic in terms of dramatic devices. But in suiting the fiction of his own creation, Téchiné’s intuitive emphasis on tragic romance, and all of the cruelty, passion, pain, and pleasure that follows is realized with a steady and confident hand that keeps his emotional odyssey on its feet.
Binoche is intoxicating throughout and it’s evident Téchiné was enamored with her captivating presence and talent. You might just fall in love with her all over again if you re-watch this classic.
Why It Belongs in the Collection: Let’s face it, The Criterion Collection isn’t capable of releasing every movie from every renowned director but there are occasions where I’m surprised that a director like Téchiné hasn’t been inaugurated. Perhaps it’s a matter of visibility in North America, not being directly affiliated with the nouvelle vague could be a reason why the prolific French director’s work is lesser seen in the states. Like Jacques Doillon, Alain Corneau, and Bertrand Tavernier, (whose only film in the Collection is the long since OOP Coup De Torchon) Téchiné’s work is a significant pillar of the ever-burgeoning landscape of French cinema. Giving rise to performers like Juliette Binoche, Rendez-vous would be the first feature film screenplay credit for the soon-to-be-renowned director Assayas. The filmic DNA of Téchiné and his 1985 feature Rendez-vous runs deep, not to mention, the movie itself also merits a spine number, but the final question is always a matter of distribution rights. The most accessible version of Rendez-vous was available thanks to a Home Vision Entertainment DVD (aka HVE), a joint venture with Criterion/Janus films. Over the past few years there have been many crossover titles formerly released by HVE entertainment now available as a part of the collection; some choice titles include a bulk of the Zatoichi series and Pale Flower.