Thursday, 26 February 2015

REVIEW - LA MAISON DE LA RADIO (NICOLAS PHILIBERT)


A precise, precious film. There's little grand societal or philosophical worth to an examination of the workings of Radio France over 24 hours, and Nicolas Philibert knows that. His film, La Maison de la Radio, is economical and unpretentious, at least as unpretentious as its subjects. Philibert, perhaps in an attempt to provide variety for his edit, drops his camera in on a few musical recordings and rehearsals, an adjunct to all the backstage discussions and on-air debates - the musical segments at times only illuminate the oddity of French cultural tastes. Elsewhere, La Maison de la Radio indeed illuminates, though its significance as a portrait piece is dwarfed by its sheer enjoyability. Philibert deploys naturally-occurring humour and levity to wonderful effect, and responds to it by structuring his edit with an appropriate cheek, as well as a deft feel for rhythm and overall pacing. He's at a loss when it comes to winding his little concerto down - he appreciates the power of silence as well as any filmmaker, but not how to accent it - nevertheless, this is a finely-tuned work of technical skill and perceptiveness. One suspects that this enterprise was immaculately planned, but not practised, as the general spontaneity and unassumingness of his human subjects suggests. Rather, La Maison de la Radio feels like the product of sensitivity and care, and a deal of circumstantial luck. Either way, it's immensely engaging, and pretty thorough for its runtime, which is shy of two hours total. It doesn't amount to much, but Philibert's acceptance of that fact enables him to make precisely the kind of precious little film this ought to be.