Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Child Under a Leaf

(George Bloomfield, 1974)
I hate to sound like an ingrate, but while this self-starting narrative of infidelity and obsession is unrelenting in its bleakness, it still lacks conviction - formula existentialism. The film's schematic of desperation is so stubborn and so willful that the moments of putative joy and release that get sprinkled in are either glaringly alienated or subsumed by the murk. There's some interest in the way the film sets up thriller elements only to have them collapse into the impenetrable angst of the protagonists, and everyone but new mother Dyan Cannon and her artist lover Daniel Pilon seem to recede into the background, suiting the doomed single-mindedness of their affair. But it rarely rings true. Playing Pilon's jilted ex-girlfriend, Micheline Lanctot is only on screen for about ninety seconds total, yet she's so much more vivid and appealing than the repressed Cannon that you want to send these self-dramatizing fools to a psychotherapist and follow Lanctot around instead.

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