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Les Amants Réguliers (Regular Lovers)

The first week of the new year isn’t typically known for its bounty of cinematic treasures, but if a better film than Philippe Garrel’s Les Amants Réguliers (which screens in a two-night preview at LACMA, prior to a full-fledged run promised later this year) surfaces in L.A. in 2007, we’re in store for anannus mirabilis. First shown at the 2005 Venice Film Festival (where Garrel won the Best Director prize), the movie begins with an event that has become one of the sociopolitical touchstones of the 20th century — the May 1968 uprisings in which all of France was momentarily gripped by countercultural fervor — and then goes on to ponder why that fire burned all too briefly in the hearts and minds of Garrel’s generation. What if, Garrel asks, you start a revolution and nobody stays? Les Amants Réguliers tells the story of François (played by Garrel’s actor son, Louis), who dodges his compulsory military service, aspires to be a poet, and is torn between those immortal impulses: to make love or countercultural war or possibly both. Attentive viewers may recall that the lanky Garrel fils previously played a young man caught up in the events of ’68 in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, but where that movie used history as the backdrop for a nostalgic-romantic fantasy, Les Amants Réguliers is like a long, intoxicating drag from a revolutionary pipe lit 37 years ago that is still smoldering. This movie gets into your bloodstream and it lingers there. You don’t merely watch it — you live it, right alongside its characters. We are there, in the quartier latin, during a midnight confrontation between rioters and police that unfolds in something resembling real time. We attend a party where a great, shifting mass of bodies sways in the half-light to the rhythms of The Kinks singing “This Time Tomorrow” (possibly one of the most arrestingly sensual moments I’ve ever seen in a movie). Later, we walk alongside François and his girlfriend Lilie (stunning newcomer Clotilde Hesme) as they traverse the streets of a Paris that seems unusually quiet and uninhabited — a private oasis that reveals itself only to those in love and flush with the belief that they can change the world. Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 5-6, 7:30 p.m. www.lacma.org

—Scott Foundas


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