Va Savoir (who Knows?)

on September 28, 2001 by Ed Scheid
   Camille (the appealing Jeanne Balibar), a member of an Italian theatre troupe performing Luigi Pirandello's "As You Desire Me" to sparse audiences, is returning to Paris after three years. Currently involved with Ugo (Sergio Castellito), the lead actor and director of the troupe, Camille has a reunion with Pierre (Jacques Bonnaffe), her former lover, who is now involved with Sonia (Marianne Basler), a ballet teacher. Ugo, meanwhile, becomes drawn to a student, Do (Helene de Fougerolles), while searching for a lost and unpublished play. Do is extremely close to her half-brother Arthur (Bruno Todeschini), who has written a play for Sonia. The complicated romantic encounters soon begin to resemble the over-the-top play in which Camille, Ugo and their company are appearing.

   Outside of an escape over the rooftops of Paris, most of the scenes take place indoors as the film becomes more and more theatrical, leading to a climax with all the characters ending up onstage. Ugo and Pierre have a hilarious duel with vodka for Camille before all the loose ends are conveniently tied up.

   Director Jacques Rivette's latest film is lighter and more accessible than his previous works, like the masterful "La Belle Noiseuse." Rivette, a former critic for Cahiers du Cinema who first came to prominence as part of the French New Wave, co-wrote "Who Knows?" with witty repartee and verbal encounters staged with effervescent amusement.

   As with many of Rivette's films, "Who Knows" has an extended running time; even with the considerable charms of the cast, the slight story is drawn out at over two-and-a-half hours. Starring Jeanne Balibar, Sergio Castellito, Marianne Basler, Jacques Bonnaffe and Helene de Fougerolles. Directed by Jacques Rivette. Written by Christine Laurent, Pascal Bonitzer and Jacques Rivette. Produced by Pierre Grise Productions. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Comedy. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 154 min

Tags: Jeanne Balibar, Sergio Castellito, Marianne Basler, Jacques Bonnaffe, Helene de Fougerolles. Directed by Jacques Rivette, Christine Laurent, Pascal Bonitzer, Jacques Rivettem, Pierre Grise Productions, A Sony Pictures Classics release, Comedy, hilarious, Paris, theatrical, amusement, Italian, romantic

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