Barbara Screen 5 articles

Barbara

2017

Barbara Poster
  • A big ol' mess that seems pretty ill conceived as a whole—but how the film gets away from Amalric almost works in its favour. What are movies about? What we're inspired by? What we portray? The moments we film? Ourselves? None of the above? Maybe movies aren't anything we know at all.

  • If Barbara doesn’t set out to recount a life, it certainly puts a life force on screen. I don’t know how accurate Balibar’s performance is, although the film emphasizes Brigitte’s close study of her model—her turns of phrase, her gestures, her bursts of actressy exuberance and petulance. Balibar—whose own work as a singer was the subject of Pedro Costa’s documentary Ne change rien—gives a majestically flamboyant performance as the singer on- and off-stage.

  • With its buffet mix of live performances, movie-within-movie snippets and scenes of Brigitte taking great pains to mimic all the tics and inflections of her subject, the film offers emotional hit after emotional hit. There is no forward momentum, and little that connects one sequence to the next. And yet it works like gangbusters, largely down to Balibar’s astonishing central turn.

  • No doubt less forgiving viewers will gripe that this film barely has any plot, a position impossible to dispute. It meanders along Parisian bridges and streets, and through provincial towns and film sets, barely bothering its pretty little head with such mundane concerns as character development, story beats or resolution... However, there’s something admirably honest about the meta-method Amalric and co-writer Philippe Di Folco have chosen.

  • Anything but a classic biopic, this attempt to capture various stages of pre-production, rehearsals, research, and the actual shooting of a forthcoming film is not that easy to follow. But once the viewer realises that this is not about Barbara’s life but her Barbara’s magic and genius, it’s easier to get comfortable and enjoy the show.

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