(Le temps retrouvé)
New Digital Restoration
Steve Wasserman is publisher and executive director of Heyday Books, and former editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review.
Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Béart, Vincent Perez, John Malkovich,
Raúl Ruiz achieves the seemingly impossible with this adaptation of the final volume of In Search of Lost Time. It is a film at once wholly faithful to Proust and to the distinctive vision of its director. Inventing a cinematic equivalent to the novelist’s “involuntary memory,” Ruiz creates a permeable fiction in which every image opens on another and every level of the remembrance—from Marcel’s cozy childhood memories to his struggles to recall the past—exists on the same plane. The film is a casting miracle, as the actors (leading figures of the contemporary French cinema) are perfect physical and emotional matches for Proust’s characters: Catherine Deneuve as the aging Odette, Emmanuelle Béart as Gilberte, Vincent Perez as the vain Morel, Pascal Greggory as the effete Saint-Loup, Marie-France Pisier as the braying Madame Verdurin. And John Malkovich, delivering his own French dialogue, finds a soul mate in the grandly decadent Baron de Charlus. For those who know the novel, Ruiz’s film sets off its own chain of memories and associations; for those who do not, it serves as a superb introduction to the shape and texture of the Proustian universe.