The Book of Solutions (Le Livre des Solutions)
The central character of Michel Gonry’s madcap ode to the beauty and peril of creativity is Marc (Pierre Niney), a depressive, neurotic filmmaker whose latest project, currently in development, has just been removed from his creative control by its backers due to its arthouse air of impenetrability. The next course of action is “Plan B”, a scheme that entails stealing the work in progress and enticing his editor, Charlotte (Blanche Gardin), and production assistant, Sylvia (Frankie Wallach), to his Aunt Denise’s (Françoise Lebrun) country home in the region of Occitania.
There, they set up shop, attempting to realise Marc’s peculiar vision away from the interference of executive decision makers. The only problem is Marc refuses to watch his own work, instead preferring to indulge in the creative diarrhoea of a tyrannical filmmaker who has just discontinued his medication for an unspecified psychological ailment. A palindromic film and an interactive editing truck are just two of the concepts that ferment in Marc’s increasingly scatterbrained mind, while his small crew heckle him to get the damned thing finished. The eponymous book – an old, forgotten concept of Marc’s recalled in the heat of his procrastination – contains small nuggets of advice, illustrated in quaint little animated vignettes. A familiar face is enlisted to texturise his orchestral score, winging his debut composition after convincing himself his for-hire orchestra’s conductor is the latest stumbling block to his vision in a riotous, Chaplin-esque tribute to the art of faking it till you make it.
Marc’s fleeting fancies are highlighted by his omniscient voiceover, which wryly acknowledges his own capriciousness in humorously dry tones, while Denise, a brilliantly wise and sympathetic performance from Lebrun, doubles as Marc’s conscience, perpetually advising him on the best way to apologise to an ever-fluctuating index of people who are peeved by his impetuousness.
The wildly erratic tendencies of Marc are mirrored by Gondry’s semi-autobiographical film itself: some of its set pieces work, some of them don’t, while some of its subversions of traditional mise en scène represent beautifully surrealist representations of the mortification of the artistic process, such as the final shot, whose comedically poignant impact perfectly seals an imperfect, but personal and resonant entry to Gondry’s canon.
The Book of Solutions (Le Livre des Solutions) does not have a UK release date yet.
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