Double Lives: A Funny Assayas [Critique]

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Double lives
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Olivier Assayas describes the procrastination of a handful of intellectuals in the process of switching into the digital age. But there is a twist: it’s a comedy!

Arte will offer this evening Double Livesthe funny movieOlivier Assayas released at the cinema in early 2019, with Guillaume Canet, Juliette Binoche and Vincent Macaigne in the main roles. For First, “it’s hypokhâgnous Tarantino”. Does it intrigue you? So here is our review of the film, as well asa link to see it now on Arte.TV.

As we know, Olivier Assayas is obsessed with fashion, novelty, the desire to capture the spirit of the times. This may make him an eternal young modern man, but it also condemns many of his films to age faster than average, to be appreciated only as testimonies to the time of their shooting. This pitfall seemed to particularly lie in wait Double Lives, which deals with the hyper-contemporary anxiety of a handful of intellectuals about the end of the civilization of writing and the triumph of screens. Said like that, of course, it’s not very engaging. But the film has a form of radicality that, let’s say, the first Noah Baumbach did not have: here, the scenes are systematically framed by impressive tunnels of dialogue, and the characters uniquely characterized by the way in which they determine themselves by report about the film (Twitter, the rise of writers’ blogs, the fashion for audiobooks, the success of e-readers, everything goes). It’s hypokhâgnous Tarantino. If researchers or extraterrestrials, in a hundred years, wonder what interested the Parisian intellectuals during the winter of 2018-2019, this film will undoubtedly be a precious archive. The framework of bourgeois marivaudage that Assayas grafts on top is very conventional (Canet cheats on Binoche, who cheats on him with Macaigne), but saved by a form of self-mockery and relaxation rather unusual in the author of Demonloverwhich dissects here in an amusing way the “culturally correct” of which it is one of the emblems.

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