Céline and Julie Go Boating (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Jacques Rivette's most famous film is a strange bit of fluff. Our heroines, a librarian and a stage magician, take to visiting a mysterious house in Montmartre, in which they become players in an old-fashioned melodrama, that replays day after day. The apparatus of pursuits and magical sweets make explicit reference to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; and in the way that Céline and Julie spoof the world around them, you may catch a hint of Morecambe and Wise.

Do the repetitions, non sequiturs and abrupt narrative rifts add up to anything more? David Thomson, in his Biographical Dictionary of Film, takes it to be "the most innovative film since Citizen Kane" and "the first film in which everything is invented". Gosh. I'm floundering a little, personally; but the film is intermittently delightful, and if you can spare the three-and-a-half hours, it really doesn't feel that long.

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