A miraculous restoration of Jacques Rivette’s brilliant and daring New Wave exploration of the all-consuming passions of art, love, and life.
Confined to decades of oblivion after its original celluloid elements were damaged in a fire, Jacques Rivette’s formally brilliant and psychologically lacerating L’amour fou — among the most important and legendary films of the French New Wave — has been meticulously restored under the expert supervision of cinematographer Caroline Champetier. Arguably the most extreme, radical, and essential of the French auteur’s films, L’amour fou was Rivette’s first feature to introduce the signature characteristics of his visionary cinema, including a durational gamesmanship and reflexive interplays between film, theatre, art, and life.
Narcissistic theatre director Sebastian (Jean-Pierre Kalfon) is staging and rehearsing a minimalist adaptation of Racine’s Andromaque while an independent television crew (led by André Labarthe) shoots a documentary of the preparations in real time, their handheld 16mm footage cut alongside the rest of the film shot on 35mm. Under extreme pressure, Sebastian’s actor wife Claire (Bulle Ogier, never more luminous) buckles and anxiously abandons her role, only to be replaced by his ex, further spurring her jealousy, isolation, and paranoia. A portrait of mad love and of unbridled and boundless passion that threatens to eclipse (even annihilate) the self, over four hypnotic, spellbinding hours, L’amour fou weds astonishing improvisation with raw psychodrama, defying the limits of reality.
Rescued from obscurity, this daring film can now be experienced in a restoration that honours Rivette’s dauntless and unflinching portrayal of the extremes of creation, one where life and art don’t merely intermingle and coalesce, but risk dangerously, desirously subsuming one another.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Shot in Paris in July and August 1967, L'amour fou was restored at Hiventy's lab in Boulogne Billancourt, under the supervision of Caroline Champetier, AFC. This film was restored with the support of Les Films du Veilleur and the CNC.
Content advisory: self-harm; domestic violence; suicide; coarse language; mature themes; violence