Les trottoirs de Saturne

Title:Les trottoirs de Saturne
Language:French 2.0
Runtime:2 :20:00
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Caught a rare 35mm of this movie at NYC’s Anthology Film Archives during their ‘Bridges in Argentinian Cinema Retrospective.’ The highlight of this series of Argentinian movies curated by director Matías Piñeiro (“Viola,” the upcoming “Princess of France”) just happened to be a French movie that happens to be made, features and is about Argentinian exiles living in Paris. A 35mm theatrical screening is as good as it gets to watch this otherwise-unavailable B&W drama revolving around world-class accordion player Fabian Cortes (Rodolfo Mederos, excellent), whose diva-like disappearance for days without warning is tolerated by his French girlfriend Danielle (Bérangère Bonvoisin), his fellow musicians, friends/artistic collaborators and admirers who regularly come see him play. That Fabian claims to speak to a long-dead patron saint of Argentinian accordion players is shrugged off, even though he swears he’s not dreaming or talking to a ghost. Whenever they’re not rehearsing, cooking, waxing philosophically, playing impromptu soccer matches or bitching about politics Fabian and their friends reminisce fondly about a Shangri-La type mythical version of Argentina named Aquilea they’ve made up. Then Fabian’s guerrilla-involved sister Marta (Andrea Livier Aronovich) suddenly shows up, setting in motion a possibility that fills Fabian and his clique with both delight and fear: a chance to go to Aquilea for real.Imagine of Jean-Luc Godard had directed “Midnight in Paris” as a B&W series of musical vignettes with a slow-burn conspiracy movie taking shape and you’d get a decent (though nowhere near accurate) idea what “Trottoirs de Saturne” feels like. At its core this is another love letter to Paris but an intellectual one. The city’s welcoming arms to artists the world over is a romantic notion that is shown to only go so far in quelling an artists’ innate need to reconnect and be loved by a nation’s power structure that has rejected them. In one of the film’s highlights Danielle (who is an immigration lawyer and helps Fabian’s fellow immigrants) confronts her boyfriend about why Argentinian exiles should feel any different than other immigrants who also miss their homelands. That Fabian is willing to turn Danielle into the very exiled life he’s rejecting by asking her to go with him to Aquilea speaks volumes about both their characters, which doesn’t take away from the movie’s cheerful embrace of artificiality as a means to tell its rather-unbelievable but rooted-in-reality story.Good supporting performances (including director Hugo Santiago in a prominent non-credited role), gorgeous B&W cinematography, great music and some honest-to-goodness suspense and tension as the movie’s final act unfolds makes “Les Trottoirs de Saturne” a small avant-garde gem.

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