The first time I saw director Patrice Chéreau’s “Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train” (1998), a deeply moving group portrait of the complicated friends and family of a recently deceased painter, as they travel to and arrive at his home for his funeral in Limoges, it was such an immersive experience that I was almost surprised when I left the screening room to find myself in midtown Manhattan.
“Those Who Love Me…” and eight other features comprise the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s upcoming series, “Patrice Chéreau: The Love That Dares.” Chereau, multi-faceted, also directed theater–revisionist adaptations of French classics–and visionary opera productions, including Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” at Beyreuth. Chéreau died last October at 67.
Some of the other films included in the series are Chéreau’s debut, “The Flesh of the Orchid” with Charlotte Rampling (1975); “Queen Margot” (1994), the lush, Oscar-nominated costume drama, with Isabelle Adjani, will be shown in a newly restored director’s cut; “Intimacy” (2001), his only English-language film, somewhat notorious for its real sex scenes which foreground the sad and isolated lives of its protagonists; “Gabrielle” (2005), based on Joseph Conrad’s “The Return,” starring Isabelle Huppert and Pascal Greggory as a wealthy turn-of-the-(last)century couple, battling through the abrupt dissolution of their marriage; and his final film, “Persecution” (2009), with Romain Duris as angry, needy Daniel whose life is simultaneously empty and frantic.
“Patrice Chéreau: The Love That Dares,” at the Walter Reade Theater, opens on Friday, February 28, and runs through Wednesday, March 5.
Love in the Time of Occupation
Omar (Adam Bakri), lanky and handsome, “commutes” from his job as a baker to visit his beautiful girlfriend Nadja (Leem Lubany) and his best friend, her brother Tarek (Eyad Hourani), hoisting himself up a rope and scaling a separation wall in the West Bank. Omar’s dreams are simple, universal, and having saved enough money for a modest house, plans to ask Nadja’s father and Tarek for permission to marry.
But in director Hany Abu-Assad’s riveting thriller, “Omar” (nominated for the 2014 Best Foreign Film Oscar), endless conflict defines life for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, often making even modest aspirations out of reach.
Tarek, a militant (and Abu-Assad, who made two young would-be suicide bombers thoroughly sympathetic in “Paradise Now” shows him as a freedom fighter), plans and participates in strikes against the Israeli military.
After a soldier is shot in one of the small operations, Omar is arrested and jailed. Coerced into working as an informant by a senior Israeli (Palestinian-American actor Waleed F. Zuaiter), Omar becomes a participant in a dangerous game where truth becomes subjective at best.
The sweetness between Omar and Nadja (who write each other letters and exchange them in person) dissipates. The situation creates pervasive doubts and suspicions and that corrosion rots away all trust, the foundation of love. In a staggering climax, Omar regains control in the only way available to him.