Passe-Compose | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Appropriately and suggestively, the title of Francoise Romand's first feature (1994), based on Frederic Dard's thriller The Executioner Weeps, translates as "Past Imperfect." Like her inventive documentaries Mix-Up and Call Me Madame, it deals with the construction of personal identity. On the Mediterranean coast of Tunisia a gloomy Jewish war photographer fleeing his past saves the life of a mysterious woman suffering from amnesia and carrying $300,000 (Helas pour moi's heroine, Laurence Masliah). In helping her discover who she is and how she came by the money, he enters a metaphysical labyrinth that produces more questions than answers. This movie doesn't offer many of the satisfactions of a conventional thriller, and the action flags a bit toward the end, but it's a provocative, troubling, and haunting spellbinder just the same, beautifully shot and originally conceived. The sound track is especially striking. Romand will be present to discuss the film at all three screenings. A U.S. premiere. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, 8:00, and Sunday, March 5, 6:00, 443-3737.

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