A STO­RY IN BET­WEEN THE RUSHES

In «Les Eter­nels» , Jia Zhang-ke et Zhao Tao re­vi­sit their com­mon work and re­de­fine the idea of a beau­ti­ful love sto­ry bet­ween a di­rec­tor and his ac­tress in the 21st cen­tu­ry.

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Exit «Ash Is the Pu­rest White» . The nice En­glish title is gone and has left his place to a see­min­gly less shi­ning french ver­sion, but that per­haps sums up bet­ter the di­rec­tor’s pro­ject. «Les Eter­nels» is that couple on the screen. We are in 2001. He is a thug and she is his re­bel­lious com­pa­nion. From that opens a ch­ro­nicle of six­teen years or­ga­ni­zed in th­ree per­iods that tell the sto­ry of how they lo­ved each other, then se­pa­ra­ted to be reu­ni­ted and then torn to pieces, wi­thout ever being able to free them­selves from the other. But the mo­vie has ano­ther mea­ning, more se­cre­tive. Since his ear­ly be­gin­nings Jia Zhang-ke al­ways films the same thing : the bar­rage of the Trois-Gorges, the San­xi re­gion, the mo­der­ni­za­tion of his coun­try and his wife, Zhao Tao. His mo­vies are frag­men­ted and el­lip­tic, as they are concei­ved as the in­com­plete pieces of an im­mense mo­saic pro­gres­si­ve­ly being high­ligh­ted. Fri­day night, we were wat­ching this new chap­ter as we would of a ex­pec­ted best-of, be­fore we rea­lize 24 hours la­ter how far we were from rea­li­ty. Jia pi­cked in the unu­sed rushes from his two em­ble­ma­tic mo­vies ( «Plai­sirs In­con­nus» and «Still Life» ) to create a ro­man­tic jour­ney through his own work, Chi­na from the 21st cen­tu­ry, and si­gned a love sto­ry by and for ci­ne­ma : that of a di­rec­tor and his ac­tress. At the heart of his mo­vies, in eve­ry take, there is Zhao, at 20 ( «Plai­sirs In­co­nus» ), at 25 ( «Still

life» ) and to­day. «When I com­pa­red her face from 2002 to 2006 I rea­li­zed that it had be­come har­der. And I won­de­red what hap­pe­ned in the past to mo­di­fy it that way.» «Les

Eter­nels» is a love sto­ry shred­ded to pieces, a de­cla­ra­tion sent from th­ree dif­ferent times that re­news and re­vi­sits their com­mon fil­mo­gra­phy. They are the Eter­nals.

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