La Jalousie is directed by Philippe Garrel and premiered at the Venice Film Festival. It stars his son Louis Garrel and Anna Mouglalis. The story is fairly simple. It is about a poor actor in his late-twenties who leaves the mother of his daughter and starts living with an actress. She’s slightly older than him and used to be a successful actress in her own right though not anymore. Of the two, it is clearly Garrel who is more in love than the woman, Claudia. Also, there is a clear difference in their approach to life where Garrel is more of an idealist and the woman (probably because she’s older and has seen more of the world) is the more practical of the two. She is worried that Garrel will eventually lose interest in her and stray and yet it is she who strays. She is dissatisfied with her life and tired of living of in a ‘hovel’. She wants to lead a comfortable life and realises that she can’t have that with Garrel.
One of the most remarkable things about La Jalousie was that it was shot in black and white and it is an absolute delight to watch. It is very pleasing to the eye. The black and white looks absolutely pristine. Visually, the film is so clean; the frames are sparse and well balanced. There is something so pleasing even about the clean, precise editing, it was unhurried and flowed at an easy pace. It let the scenes breathe. It was such a stark contrast to Hollywood films that are all about short shots where anything over five seconds is considered long. There is a quiet beauty in La Jalousie that sneaks up on you. This kind of filmmaking has become so rare that to see such a film is such a relief to the senses, to not have your senses overwhelmed by stimulus.
The performances are good and both the main leads, Louis Garrel and Anna Mouglalis are convincing in their parts, especially Mouglalis. The acting was sober and subtle. For instance, in the scene where Claudia takes Garrel to her lover’s apartment and asks him if he would like to live with her, there are no hysterics from either of them. Garrel plays it like one would in real life, he is confused, bemused and not sure if the Claudia is serious or not and Mouglalis kept it very matter-of-fact and straightforward. It was realistic for her to be frustrated and to want someone who can provide for her. Love became secondary.
La Jalousie is a quiet film and unfussy. While it is a little slow, it is never dull or boring. It is very different film simply because like today’s audience, many filmmakers also don’t have the patience to make such films, and that is precisely what makes this film an absolute gem and not to be missed.