“...rejoice in the wife of your youth” Proverbs 5:18
A gestural film of eyebrows, this is physical comedy of a very high order. A wondrous gift, silently given. Unselfconsciously immune to accusations of pastiche because of the obvious pleasure taken in its making. This is a ravishing revisiting of the past, without irony, and such excellently executed tellings of history should be commended, were that the past was only dogs' tricks and tapdance. Hollywood's foundations, however, deserve to be visited with a more critical eye than this reaffirmation of institutionalised vacuity with its celebration of extramarital superficiality.
To understand this film, consider that Valentin embodies Hollywood: perpetually self-related and inevitably in crisis. One could scarcely ask for a more vivid parable of the life lived incurvatus in se: when you believe your own hype you will use people to make films rather than using films to love people. Our screen is so overpopulated with anti-heroes that we barely register that this film is resolved only when our protagonist trades in his outmoded wife of silent cinema for a new accessory to his pathological obsession with fame. Films about films defend technique in an unstable age of technique; acting about acting here defends the myth of the genius.