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Demain? (4 stars)

Elegiac story of the passionate life of Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini

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Demain?

Based not so much on the life of Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini so much as the moments where she faces crises of indecision, Christine Laurent’s fine film focuses almost exclusively on the emotions. Delmira (Laure de Clermont-Tonerre) is a woman who insists, even on her honeymoon, in writing for several hours a day in complete isolation, and for whom the pleasures of the flesh also make her wonder about the state of her soul. Though the film indicates her background was conservative, with the suffocatingly judgemental mother (Teresa Madruga) and a more sympathetic but easily cowed father, the film refuses to allow social contexts to determine the nature of Delmira’s feelings. It seems that it’s the poetry rather than society which makes demands on her spirit, as she wants to live every moment as intensely as she possibly can, but can’t live that intensity in the one direction expected of her.

Laurent worked for years as Jacques Rivette’s assistant, and like Rivette utilises long takes and hollowed sound, capturing the tick-tock of time passing through uncluttered framing. Though the film is about intensity of emotion, it chooses not at all to reflect that passion in melodramatic form. There might be the scene where she signs a copy of her book with her own blood, and scenes of sexual pleasure, but the tone is elegiac and tragic. Agustini’s been described as the poet of her Latin American generation to explore more frankly than anyone else the 'delights and torments of sexual experience', but the film has a chilly feel with the passion contained - as if the film were about the ghosts of the characters as readily as their embodiment.

Demain? screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2012.

Demain?

  • 4 stars
  • 2011
  • France, Portugal
  • 95 min
  • Directed by: Christine Laurent
  • Cast: Laure de Clermont, Marc Ruchmann, Teresa Madruga, Adriano Luz, Beatriz Batarda

Based not so much on the life of Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini but on moments where she faces crises of indecision, Laurent’s fine film focuses almost exclusively on the emotions. But the film has a chilly feel with the passion contained.

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