Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog

Mon Oncle d'Amerique

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on May 24, 2013 at 5:20 PM


Alain Resnais


IDEA:  The lives of three French citizens are examined and used to illustrate theories of evolutionary psychology.

BLURB:  Mon Oncle d’Amérique fits into a long lineage of films that adopt the human condition as their subject, locating sprawling philosophical, psychological, and existential currents in microcosmic personal stories. We get the sense watching it that these characters are totally incidental, that they might as well be anyone anywhere on this planet and it would make no difference. What makes Resnais’ film so unique in this pantheon, then, is that its characters are used as veritable case studies: under the analytical eye of real-life physician Henri Laborit, they are observed, tested, and evaluated with the same scientific rigor as lab rats, critters who make explicit appearances themselves. If this all seems a bit didactic – something it has no qualms about outright being – then Resnais’ exquisite formal techniques keep the whole thing fresh. His New Wave background in full evidence, the film is never content with being just one thing. Flitting between art and science, collage and essay, it is an adventurous and thought-provoking dive into the behavioral mechanics that consume us all. Perhaps most crucially, it is a plea for awareness among people whom too often don't understand their own actions. The answer to this occlusion, it shows us, is in the very medium we're watching.

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