Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Non-Fiction

Reviews - Non-Fiction


Reviewed By Ian Payne

The clock next to the Alhambra's screen is back again after the restoration, giving the reviewer an essential, additional piece of information in making his or her critique. Non-Fiction was a 5.20pm film. 5.20pm being the time I first looked at the clock wondering 'how long is this going on?' For a film that started at 5.05pm it was not a good sign. The Keswick Film Club audience has a deep and abiding love for French Cinema, however Non-Fiction somehow failed to deliver, despite the usual tropes of long, meaningful conversations over wine and olives, complicated affairs and liaisons not to mention some good-looking actors.

Director Olivier Assayas set his cast in the world of publishing, with Alain, the publisher and Leonard the author, the principal protagonists. Leonard's books are described as 'autofiction' – thinly disguised episodes from his own life. As these episodes seem to centre on lurid encounters told in graphic detail, Leonard's sexual partners (including Alain's wife) are understandably anxious. As the final 15 minutes of the film show, this vein could well have been mined for an entertaining, if lightweight, comedy. Unfortunately, Assayas is fixated on the future of publishing, whether print or digital and whether tweets and texts on social media have any intrinsic artistic value. At the expense of the plot, these topics dominate the dinner party conversations that set the early tone of the film – but if like the audience in the Alhambra indicated, they do not share the Director's interest and concerns, the film falls woefully flat.

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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