Time Regained Screen 97 of 15 reviews

Time Regained

1999

Time Regained Poster
  • Proust is a writer whose work defeated such distinguished adapters as Joseph Losey and Luchino Visconti; Ruiz succeeds because his movie is something of a search for Proust’s own search. . . . All about remembering (cinema not least), this luxurious bath in the river of time is, to lift a phrase from Proust, consecrated to “the miracle of an analogy.”

  • What is most impressive is that even many fans and connoisseurs of the novel went away satisfied with Ruiz’s “take” on what had long been considered . . . a completely unfilmable literary property. The beloved characters, the famous motifs (such as the memory-triggering madeleine), the tersely melodramatic situations: Ruiz respected enough of that “to the letter” in order to win the right to his surreal arabesques and dreamlike variations on the given material.

  • Ruiz turns the play of the author’s memory into a primordial Surrealism by way of bold visual analogies and sonic associations akin to rhymes. Throughout the film, Ruiz lets loose with a phantasmagorical barrage of audacious effects—including rear-screen projections that freeze the adult writer into a dashing posture while he rushes through shifting landscapes of his mind—that dramatize the very act of creation and, for that matter, the impact on Proust of the early cinema.

  • One of Ruiz's best-known films stands as one of the finest literary adaptations of the past 25 years. Time Regained — a majestic yet spirited page-to-screen transfer of the last volume (published in 1927) of Proust's magnum opus In Search of Lost Time — honors the source material by immediately plunging spectators into a series of time-bending vignettes linked by the vagaries of memory.

  • Ruiz doesn’t so much adapt Proust’s masterpiece as allow a transformation of the novel (and his responses to it) into a protean pastiche of the elements of memory. Proust’s words and ideas explode into moving images that portray what the critic Geoffrey O’Brien calls “a haven in interior reflection”. If Proust dissects memory and describes how it ravages the soul, Ruiz shows us how it wrenches not only the characters but memory itself, twisting and straining against time present and time past.

  • From the beginning, Ruiz affords the film’s audience no fixed point of identification but rather sets it adrift among the events onscreen. He alters the camera set-ups from shot to shot with complete disregard for the rules of continuity editing and moves furniture and set pieces both during shots and between them, further rendering space ambiguous. After a few minutes, the viewer is thoroughly disoriented and mesmerized.

  • The echoes of narrative situations... are not an equivalent of Proustian extra-temporality but, starting from a similar recourse to analogy, they offer a sort of counter-model. In Time Regained, the most successful moments are those in which the condensation of memories, the mise en scène of crossing ‘temporal lines’, does not open up the construction of an individual subjectivity (as in Proust), but rather an esprit du temps, a Zeitgeist of this twentieth century that begins with World War I.

  • Ruiz has designed it as a companion to the novel rather than a fully (or even partially) comprehensible work in its own right, mounting a lavish, expensive international production that will leave all but Proust scholars out in the cold. Yet the film, however quixotic, is an accomplished and impressive achievement, particularly in the way Ruiz translates Proust's narrative digressions into formal flights of fancy.

  • Ruiz's rendering of Proust is a miracle – fidelity achieved through audacity. . . . Marshalling a cast of France's finest actors, and knowing that translation works best when it is freest, Ruiz conures the Proust one encounters in the novel: by turns magical, shocking, immensely sad, woundingly cruel, delectably funny. And as ornate as in its t rappings as the swank SWANN IN LOVE, it never imprisons itself in period detail; it manages to be opulent and bracing, luxe and léger at the same time.

  • One of the most intelligent and substantial films of our day. . . . There is no attempt to follow the order in which these lines appeared in the novel: some snatches of speech may be combined from hundreds of pages apart, but the dialogue is either taken directly from Proust, or paraphrased from the text. In its own way, the film is remarkably faithful to its source material. But it is also faithful to Ruiz’s schema that . . . successive scenes need not connect into one dramatic “flow.”

  • Mr. Ruiz has chosen not to dramatize Proust but, rather, to evoke him through lushly photographed interiors, polished surfaces and doors opening from one period to another, from one party to another, from one conversation to another. . . . In the end, we celebrate the author’s genius in creating a work that will make him an eternal inspiration to people of taste and culture.

  • It is a film at once wholly faithful to Proust and to the distinctive vision of its director. Inventing a cinematic equivalent to the novelist's "involuntary memory," Ruiz creates a permeable fiction in which every image opens on another and every level of the remembrance . . . exists on the same plane. The film is a casting miracle, as the actors (leading figures of the contemporary French cinema) are perfect physical and emotional matches for Proust's characters.

  • Its real triumph may lie in the roster of performances that Ruiz has coaxed out of his actors, particularly the women: Marie-France Pisier as a comically hysterical and beautifully aged Madame Verdurin; Catherine Deneuve, seemingly miscast as Odette, yet rightly, deeply cold; and, best of all, the unbelievably beautiful Emmanuelle Beart. . . . No curtain of late-modern irony . . . seems to separate these actresses from the lives of the women of the last fin de siecle whom they impersonate.

  • Ironically, one of the frustrations of watching Time Regained is realizing that its intelligence, its tone, its mise-en-scene, and its performances all suggest that had Ruiz set out to painstakingly film every page of Proust’s masterwork and allow viewers to luxuriate in its temporal resonances, he would have created something less teasingly fragmented and more open to the pleasures that not even Proust denies us. That said, Time Regained is the best attempt to tackle this literary mastodon.

  • Anyone who approaches Time Regained thinking it might capture the essence of the greatest novel of the 20th century in roughly one-17th the time it took me to read it is indulging in an orgy of self-deception. I couldn't recommend the film to anybody in search of such a digest or as any sort of replacement for the original. . . . For better and for worse, Ruiz's version is closer to a game than an adventure--not so much a lesson about life as an elaborate piece of playfulness.

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