Like Jean-Luc Godard, Olivier Assayas often uses cinema to interrogate the zeitgeist; here, he employs a romantic roundelay narrative to contemplate the future of written communication and the Internet’s strong hold on many people’s lives. The film takes place around France’s literary world—the setting of Assayas’s Late August, Early September (1998)—and snakes elegantly through the lives of a publishing executive (Guillaume Canet), his actress wife (Juliette Binoche), a writer of autobiographical novels (Vincent Macaigne), and the writer’s political-adviser girlfriend (Christa Théret). In terms of surface tone, this is one of the airiest things the director has made, though what it has to say about the Internet is as unsettling as Demonlover (2002), perhaps his darkest film. Assayas suggests that the Internet has trained us to dissociate ourselves from our behavior, as revealed by the ease with which most of the characters lie to their romantic partners (tellingly, the original title translates to “double lives”). In French with subtitles.
R • 1 hour 46 min • 2018