Boléro (2024)



Some impressionistic structuring, and a calmly charismatic performance from Raphaël Personnaz, elevate Anne Fontaine’s absorbing biopic of Maurice Ravel.

Every 15 minutes, according to a title at the end of director Anne Fontaine‘s latest film, someone on earth plays Maurice Ravel’s “Boléro.” It’s a largely unprovable statement that is nonetheless borne out anecdotally by the familiarity of the tune, which crops up so frequently in concerts, movies, TV shows, commercials, dance recitals and at least one iconic 1980s ice skating routine, that it’s close to becoming sonic wallpaper. It’s a pleasant surprise then, that “Boléro,” Fontaine’s gently deconstructed Ravel biopic, while running long and never wholly airing out the stuffiness of “tortured genius” genre, does at minimum make us appreciate the music anew its rustling snare drums, its snake charmer woodwinds, its revving, roundabout rhythms.

Indeed Fontaine’s screenplay, co-written with Claire Barré’ convincingly suggests that despite whatever ambivalence may be felt by modern viewers towards composition. This is shown through Ravel who is sensitively underplayed by Raphaël Personnaz; most part happens during six years when he procrastinated accepting new ballet commission from choreographer Ida Rubenstein (Jeanne Balibar) woman with turbans and cigarette holders making theatrical demands for carnal bewitching eroticism in music until it was first performed.

At this time already recognized as greatest living French composer but also man always forgetting his dress shoes; world weary artist whose modesty concealed single-minded belief in perfectibility through own creative process only matched by faultfinding tendency able to dismiss other people’s opinions outright because they were not precise enough against themselves. Responding waves upon waves praise following premiere “Bolero” 1928, Cipa (Vincent Perez) hears from Ravel that it might become his most important work “It is too bad there is no music in it.”

Fontaine has draped the film with Christophe Beaucarne’s beautifully aged photography while using a looping structure similar to the circularity within the piece itself; different occasions from before and after “Boléro” are represented. For example unsuccessful five time attempt at Prix de Rome by Ravel, service in World War I as well death of mother he deeply loved (Anne Alvaro) occur alongside deteriorating health after “Boléro” where undiagnosed neurological condition would cause progressive dementia leading death nine years later.

Concerning personal life which largely remains unknown apart from few suggested close friendships such as pianist Marguerite Long (Emmanuelle Devos) or enduring relationship involving sister to Misia who was socialite and arts patron inspired real-life Misia Sert serves muse like role despite composer’s assertion that he does not believe them even though she frequently marries other men thus remaining just beyond reach, watching one her husbands observe how chaste Ravels love for his wife made him feel secure in marriage saying nothing assures me more than you do. It also recalls some contemporary criticisms leveled against earlier pieces by Ravel himself through characters like this insensitive comment about lack sex passion precision being perceived but boorishness alike critical reception towards these works.

However, Fontaine’s movie signifies that Ravel was fueled by almost ASMR-level relationship with sound in his sexual creativity and musical talent than more carnal or earthly things. When he fell from a window after an early career disappointment it wasn’t a suicide attempt because he insists he was leaning out to hear the wind through the shingles “Oriental melody” but if some moments that were meant to show the fineness of Ravel’s feeling for Misia and music are overworked, there’s an unusually good, detailed representation of both genius 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration said to be involved.

Watch Boléro For Free On Gomovies.

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