Thursday, November 11, 2010


The Will to 'Desired'

Dé-si-ré! by Sacha Guitry, 1937:

Madame to her boyfriend monsieur le ministre, while getting ready for bed: "To think one day you could be president of the Republic." "Why do you say that?" "Whenever I see you in your underwear, I can't help thinking about it." / One wants to quote every line from a Guitry film, and of course this 'theatrical' chamber comedy about domestics and their employers lends itself to that desire / A film naturally built on cross-cut scenes, in line with the great French tradition of framing a story of masters and servants not merely as an examination of the struggle between disproportionate power and ill-matched members of respective classes but more interestingly as a battle between the sexes / "Songes et mensonges!" / "You don't send a deaf woman to dinner alone!" / Violence in Dé-si-ré! is the angular suddenness and rapidity of the cross-cuts, shots only held long enough to contain un éclatement of sound / Désiré, feminine forename of Guitry's character (the valet who has seduced, seduces, inadvertently), with the masculine ending, character and name at one with the slippage back and forth between open and repressed longing which even itself is worn on the sleeve, and bringing to mind Guitry's phrase recounted by Luc Moullet in our discussion on JLG's Une femme mariée: "I'm against women — I'm right up against them" / The valet Désiré desired by Madame Odette (played by Jacqueline Delubac, ice-coy) / Delubac lived till 90 and died in the same year as Gummo / Guitry's magnificent hand-flapping chest-pounding soliloquies, especially that one at the end where the sculptural moonlight provides the spotlight, as though Désiré's mounted a stage for all to see and hear his most private confession, transformed, frieze-like, classical, into the stationary, though animated, voice — his posture assuming the same arch, the near-leer, it took in Madame's erotic dream... / As the movie says: "You'd think one only heard properly through closed doors."

Dé-si-ré! by Sacha Guitry, 1937:


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