“The holes prophets make to see the future are the same ones historians use to look at the past.”
Former revolutionaries in Switzerland — including a high school teacher (Jacques Denis), a cashier (Miou-Miou), a typesetter-turned-gardener (Jean-Luc Bideau), and a secretary (Myriam Mezieres) — struggle to find meaning in their post-1960s lives.
Full of intelligent dialogue, quirky characters, and countless memorable moments, this European forerunner to John Sayles’ The Return of the Secaucus Seven (1980) remains one of Swiss director Alain Tanner’s most enjoyable and accessible films. By the end of the movie, we learn how these diverse characters are all (perhaps inevitably) connected to one another — but the finale seems natural rather than contrived, and takes nothing away from our genuine interest in their personal struggles up till then. Indeed, one can’t help rooting for these all-too-human characters as they struggle to reconcile their socialist ideals with the reality of life in a capitalist society. Ultimately, Tanner succeeds in portraying the passion and zeal of former revolutionaries without patronizing them — not an easy task.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Denis’ unorthodox yet fascinating high school teaching methods
- Miou-Miou’s early performance as a subversive cashier who steals food for her elderly neighbor
- Mezieres as a secretary unabashedly into tantric sex
Yes. This remains Tanner’s most enjoyable film, and is highly recommended.