Love Troika

Wonderfully stylish, precisely mounted, and deeply reflective, this 1998 first feature by Gilles Bourdos weaves together two narratives from pivotal moments in the history of communism. In 1989, Louise's lover dies, leaving her the diary of his father, Alfred Katz, a self-taught poet and Trotskyite who vanished mysteriously near the beginning of World War II. In 1938, Trotsky's followers are fleeing Stalin's assassins (the film's French title, Disparus, translates as “Disappeared”); Katz, invited to a surrealists' party by Andre Breton, falls for Mila, a model for Man Ray. She marries Katz but also keeps her Stalinist lover, and the entanglements that ensue capture the messy collision of human affections and political theory. Bourdos conveys the urgency of the characters' beliefs, but the fall of communism in 1989 (represented by demonstrations on TV) also renders their passionate commitment as hopelessly irrelevant, absurd in the face of history. With nary a frame nor inch of screen space wasted, the film's taut style reminds us that past and present are always interconnected. 110 min.

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