Léolo by Jean-Claude Lauzon

Leolo by J-C Lauzon

The best way to look back on your life is to sum it up in a series of poems. Even better if these poems are rooted in visual remembrances and if some of these remembrances are of dreams and fantasies.

This is what we have here and it is well done so I celebrate it.

A precocious boy is writing a life. This life is the story we watch. This story is being read by a friend of the boy as a manuscript. Such things are common devices to annotate the ‘reality’ of the story. And it is so rich here, all levels invested in this manuscript, as the movie we’re watching, the screenplay of the movie, the boy’s childhood remembrances, and the writing of these remembrances.

I mention this because it is a narrative device you will encounter more than once. In fact, it is the new thing and all intelligent writers use it. I don’t know why it works besides some screenwriting notion of authenticating the story. It appears that a story is more believable if it itself has a story.

But why busy yourself with this idea? Isn’t a film, just a film, and should be taken at face value? That’s a reasoning I respect. But I believe that you either build a life for yourself or borrow one from a magazine.

Italians, to not say Fellini, established a cinematic aesthetic for presenting the flourishing imagined fantasies of childhood. It is as rooted in visuals as much as a child’s imagination would be. But most Italian directors traditionally believe that stories are about people, and that the inherent passion within people is the natural thing that propels a narrative.

Lauzon solved this by nesting. Childhood memories are nested (within books), fantasies are nested within memories, and our film is nested within itself (as the “found” manuscript).

So much of what we believe is great art is proportionally related to how much of the artist’s soul is nested in our own. Sometimes the nesting comes from the sincerity of the delivery. Sometimes the sincerity is enwrapped in something seducing (out of sheer art), and even better if this seduction is worth our investment.

So the visions here are lush, but what interests me is how the writing supports the lushness. How the eye matches the mind. It is not a matter of simply having beautiful images put together with beautiful words. It is how the words generate the images and these images generate the words. There is an almost literal representation of this notion here. It is a poetic as you can imagine. Now imagine what this comment is. Exactly the same thing.

I watched “The Element of Crime” a few days ago and the center pretends to be visual as well, but it is dishonest. That is, it is pretty only because it can be. I guess sometimes there is a rush in what’s to be said and no patience for how it’s to be done. But I’d take this one film here over the largely uneven oeuvre of Trier.

Now I can sit and imagine further films he could have conceived.

Lauzon died in a plane crash in 1997

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Categories: Notes

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