Bad Blood | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The distinctive and unusual talents of French filmmaker Leos Carax have relatively little to do with story telling, and it would be a mistake to approach this, his second feature, expecting a "dazzling film noir thriller," which is how it was described for the Chicago Film Festival in 1987. Dazzling it certainly is in spots, but its film noir and SF trappings--hung around a vaguely paranoid plot about a couple of thieves (Michel Piccoli, Hans Meyer) hiring the son (Denis Lavant) of a recently deceased partner to help steal a cure to an AIDS-like virus--are so feeble that they function at best only as a literal framing device, a means for Carax to tighten his canvas. The real meat of this movie is his total absorption in his two wonderful lead actors, Lavant and Juliette Binoche (Blue), which comes to fruition during a lengthy attempt by the former to seduce the latter, an extended nocturnal encounter that the various genre elements serve only to hold in place. The true sources of Carax' style are neither Truffaut nor Godard but the silent cinema--its poetics of close-ups, gestures, and the mysteries of personality, its melancholy, and its innocence. Bad Blood uses color with a sense of discovery similar to that found in the morbidly beautiful black and white of Boy Meets Girl, and the rawness of naked emotion and romantic feeling is comparably intense. The tendency of critics to link Carax with the much older Beineix (Diva) and the much callower Besson (Subway) seems misguided: as Carax points out, Bad Blood is "a film which loves the cinema, but which doesn't love the cinema of today." From the standpoint of a Beineix or a Besson, Bad Blood is jerry-built and self-indulgent; from the standpoint of cinema, it blows them both out of the park. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday and Tuesday, June 17 and 21, 7:00 and 9:00, 281-4114.

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