That Most Important Thing: Love Screen 11 articles

That Most Important Thing: Love


That Most Important Thing: Love Poster
  • Gratifyingly thorny love triangle starring two fine actors and one pleasant-looking hunk of timber. Romy Schneider won the (very first) César, but it was pop star Jacques Dutronc who really wowed me, in part because on paper his role seems virtually unplayable.

  • This isn't the realm of sentimentality, because love here is violent and obsessive and all-encompassing.

  • Though the films of Andrzej Zulawski are known for their boisterous energy and feverish excesses of sex, violence and the bizarre, his third film L'important c'est d'aimer (The Important Thing Is to Love) is tempered by a richly humanistic story and a shattering performance by Romy Schneider, which she considered to be (and many critics agree) her career zenith.

  • At once unspeakably sordid and unexpectedly transcendent, it features Schneider’s career performance and is a must for Kinski fans.

  • Power is inseparable from love and art, and poisons both. Servais and Nadine attract and repel each other for as long as they worry who might get the upper hand. Only in the finale, in which Zulawski hushes the farcical undertones, do the two lovers finally reveal themselves as they are—fearful, hurt, confused, vulnerable—and affirm that love, mature love, can flourish.

  • [Possession] tracks spouses played by Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani as they destroy themselves through binges of jealousy (one of Adjani’s lovers is a viscous, tentacled creature with an unslakable sexual appetite), rage, and despair. Those feelings also dominate L’important, its emotional entropy at once electrifying and eviscerating.

  • The searing, sometimes confounding film also ideally showcases the heartbreaking talents of Schneider, who deservedly won her first César award for her work here. The restoration, by Rialto for this United States release, is lovely; Ricardo Aronovich’s cinematography is largely a study of tragic faces, and when his light hits the whites of Schneider’s eyes a certain way, the effect is breathtaking.

  • Żuławski's film—filled as it is with a harvest of 1970's Euro-art-house stereotypes—should, at best, be a campy, sometimes pornographic poem. Instead, it is brutally sincere, and as bluntly romantic (and tragic) as its title... Żuławski said that the film remained close to him “because of its humanity;” what confounds us is that this tenderness is created through the pretenses of theater and images, and through a sensual kind of decadence—not realism or sentimentality.

  • The title can be translated as "the important thing is to love," and Żuławski presents love as an all-consuming force, similar to madness or addiction. The film is deliberately overstylized—with outsize performances, lush music (by Georges Delerue), and delirious camera movements—yet the grandeur reflects the intensity of the characters' experience.

  • As with any Żuławski film, the relative straightforwardness of its synopsis is misleading; dizzying camera movements, caricatural aesthetics, and a melodramatic score by Georges Delerue transform a banal story, that of tortured artists and an all-consuming love triangle, with near operatic excess... Żuławski’s mélange of cinematic indulgences ultimately yields something substratal in its guilelessness, a testament to his madcap auteurism.

  • It's unlike any film Żuławski ever made, and was certainly a departure in his visual sensibility relative to the feature films he had made previously in his native Poland: The Third Part of the Night (1971) and The Devil (1972). Narratively and visually, the film is at once an oddity and a turning point in Żuławski’s oeuvre, and in viewing it, it would benefit the viewer to understand the director’s experience with the French cinematic tradition and its effect on his own cinema.

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