[box cover]

Va Savoir

Cinema has always had an uneasy relationship with the theater. While the stage is a pure, classical art, the movies are a mongrel hybrid, like opera. And movie-people seem to be constantly ashamed of their craft, as seen each year at the Oscars when the self-flagellating voters consistently honor English stage actors over home-grown screen stars. French New Wave director Jacques Rivette has always had one foot in each camp, alternating cinematic and magical tales about girl hijinks with stories set in the theater and usually concerning the production of a play. The title of his latest picture to reach the U.S. is translated as "Who knows?," but could also stand to be called "Go figure," and that pretty much captures the light-hearted tone of the film. Va Savoir concerns the production of a Pirandello play in Paris. The director (Sergio Castellito) and the lead actress (Jeanne Balibar) are feuding lovers each tempted by another, she her ex-boyfriend, he by the daughter of a woman who may have the only existing copy of an otherwise-unseen play by Goldoni. Rivette mounts multiple variations of meetings, attractions, and complications among this quartet and two other characters, all joyously loving and amusingly jealous, and engaging in sexual machinations that might shock more staid viewers who perhaps don't understand the alley-cat morals of actors. The 73-year-old Rivette loves all his characters, but especially the complex Jeanne Balibar, whose motivation is rather mysterious, but whose exploits, which include creeping around on rooftops, evoke heroines of French silent serials. At 154 minutes, Va Savoir is about an hour longer than it needs to be, but the characters are so fascinating, and so humanized under Rivette's supervision, that we don't mind spending so much time with them. Columbia TriStar's DVD offers an impeccable anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with serviceable Dolby 2.0 Surround audio and digital English subtitles. Trailers for this film and two other examples of recent art-house fare. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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