Wander Land

For all its glorious time-wasting, The Wind Will Carry Us is essentially a deathwatch. Late in the movie, it's casually revealed that the Engineer has been hanging out in Siah Dareh for two weeks. When night finally falls, however, it's as though the time he's spent there has been a single golden, purposeless, perpetual afternoon.

The 59-year-old Kiarostami may be the last international filmmaker to grow up under the influence of Italian neorealism—its tendencies may be seen in his use of nonactors and "ordinary" situations, his uninflected camera style and eschewal of mood music, his interest in children and taste for open endings. But as the last neorealist, Kiarostami is a necessarily self-reflexive one. With exquisite timing, the Screening Room has scheduled a brief Kiarostami retro, including his hall-of-mirrors staged documentary Close-Up (1990) and the so-called Koker trilogy—Where Is the Friend's Home? (1987), And Life Goes On (1992), and Through the Olive Trees (1994)—an exceptional suite of movies that refer both to Iran's devastating 1991 earthquake and to each other.

Confident in its lack of consequence: Dourani in The Wind Will Carry Us
photo: New Yorker Films
Confident in its lack of consequence: Dourani in The Wind Will Carry Us


The Wind Will Carry Us
Written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami
New Yorker Films release
Opens July 28

Abbas Kiarostami Retrospective
Screening Room
July 28 through August 2

Girl on the Bridge
Directed by Patrice Leconte
Written by David Hayter
A Paramount Classics release
Opens July 28

Tastefully directed by French veteran Patrice Leconte, Girl on the Bridge is a film of fake magic and facile enchantment—a slick bit of Fellini, a hint of Wings of Desire, a sort of Leos Carax lite. This ardently eccentric love story is mild stuff, but the jaunty, eclectic score and choppy camera give the impression of something more—in the same spirit that the tinted black-and-white cinematography feels forever trembling on the brink of color.

Leconte's romantic fable opens with a burst of North African music and a pretty young girl named Adele (pop star Vanessa Paradis) telling the sad tale of her naive affairs. This backstory is the setup for sadly promiscuous and pertly despairing Adele to hurl herself off a Paris bridge—a fate from which she is saved by the timely appearance of an irritating middle-aged bore (Daniel Auteuil) who turns out to be the great Gabor, a professional knife thrower in need of a lissome new target. Together, Adele and Gabor plunge into the circus backstage. The knife-throwing performances are filmed as though they were sexual encounters; not only the audience but the whole sideshow is transfixed by their erotic power. (Although Gabor sublimates his sexuality in his public performances, the filmmakers take care to confirm his normality by including a wistful former lover.) Adele's fooling around with assorted train conductors and contortionists notwithstanding, the two expand their rapport to include a telepathic roulette racket.

The gap-toothed Paradis is certainly a cutie pie. So is the movie, and some people are bound to come under its somewhat shopworn spell. Girl on the Bridge is painless—not particularly funny and not even remotely moving. Most of the big scenes are shamelessly prompted by the soundtrack, as the couple wander along the Mediterranean, playing an Italian carnival and an Adriatic cruise ship. The latter proves critical to their relationship while providing the movie's single most satisfying joke, which involves a badly aimed throw and the Brenda Lee chestnut "I'm Sorry."

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