Les Amants du Pont-Neuf.


The Juliette Binoche Poster.

Leos Carax latest film Holy Motors (2012) has been released to much critical acclaim, it tells the story of a shadowy character (Denis Lavant) who journeys from one life to the next. Carax is a French film director who is noted for poetic style and his tortured depiction of love. One of his most notable films is Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991), which I believe translates as Lovers on the New Bridge.

This modern French fairy tale is the story of a love affair that develops between two rather sad young vagrants living on the Pont-Neuf Bridge in Paris; despite its name it is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine. Alex is a fire breathing street performer who is addicted to alcohol and sedatives who we first encounter lying in a main road with a broken leg after having it run over by a motorist, he is then ‘swept up’ by a police patrol who are clearing the Paris streets of vagrants late one evening. When he is finally released with his leg in a cast he returns to the bridge to find a new resident has moved in. Michele is a painter who it transpires has been driven to a life of hardship on the streets by a failed relationship and a disease that is slowly destroying her eye sight and therefore preventing her from working on her painting’s. Sharing the bridge is a grumpy old vagrant called Hans who for reasons of his own treats Alex like a son but takes an instant dislike to Michele.

Its not easy for Michele and Alex.

Denis Lavant has played the lead role in all but one of Carax’s films and plays the physically demanding role of Alex with startling conviction and immense skill. Juliette Binoche deservedly won a European film award and secured her third Cesar nomination for her persuasive portrayal of Michele. Incidentally it was Binoche’s own artwork that used in the movie and she also designed the French poster for the film.
While Michele's eyesight gets worse ......

...... Alex earns what he can at street theatre.

Carax makes excellent use of the sights and sounds of Paris during the 1989 French Bicentennial Celebrations and regular Director of Photography Jean-Yves Escoffier also works his magic on Paris making the city as striking and beautiful as you have ever seen it on screen. The film illustrates quite graphically the ups and downs of love on the streets between two very sad and troubled people in a passionate and gripping fashion. This rather unconventional love story depicts the miseries of the deprived and socially outcast to great effect. This movie certainly gives you an appetite for more of the French directors work.

Pont-Neuf Bridge Paris.