C’était un rendez-vous (1976)    4 Stars


Director: Claude Lelouch

Cast: Gunilla Friden, Claude Lelouch

Synopsis: A high-speed drive through the streets of Paris.






C’etait un rendez-vous, Claude Lelouch’s legendary 1976 journey through the early-morning streets of Paris, is cinema verite in its purest form: strap a camera to the front of your new Ferrari, get your racing driver mate to take the wheel, and off you go. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what speed the anonymous driver was driving at — it’s the visceral thrill you can get from watching (and re-watching) this nine-minute classic that is important. This is what cinema did in its very earliest days, when the sight of a train arriving at a railway station on the screen was allegedly enough to have an audience fleeing from their seats. We’ll never again be fooled the way they were but, by watching films like this, we can at least experience something of the excitement they must have felt as we see the Parisian streets disappearing beneath the bottom of the screen, hear the gears growl as tight corners and narrow tunnels are negotiated with pinpoint precision, see the obstacles provided by other early-morning motorists avoided by switching to the wrong side of the road, and watch startled pigeons sent hurtling into the dawn sky. Yeah, it’s wrong and it’s stupid and if you saw it in real life you’d dismiss the driver as a brainless idiot — but it’s also a real kick.

(Reviewed 6th September 2006)