Shot on grainy black and white DV that looks like a Richard Avedon photograph printed on sandpaper, A tout de suite is the most intoxicatingly good-looking movie of the year so far. It’s the only reason the film qualifies as even a disappointment.
Lili (Isild Le Besco) is a bored art student in 1970s Paris. Looking for excitement, she meets Bada: tall, dark, handsome, and, as Lili finds out when a job goes awry and a bystander is killed, a bank robber. So they go on the lam across a vaguely homogenous
Europe filmed in neutral set-ups, with Jacquot favoring a deliberate tone to match Le Besco’s uninflected performance. Further underscoring Lili’s blasé demeanor are sex scenes with a Greek girl, and with two men Lili picks up at a disco; as if — as the friend I saw the movie with griped — people only have unconventional sex if there’s something missing from their lives.
And that’s the problem. Even though Jacquot apes the cool detachment of Breathless or vintage Antonioni, his story is all mushy at the center. The remoteness he revels in is only used to indicate an absence in Lili. In a recurring motif, she makes charcoal drawings — of Bada, or a peaceful island adorned with palm trees — meant, presumably, to communicate her unvoiced yearnings, and speaks abstractly of seeking her “true self.” A tout de suite is cinematic tourism used for disingenuous affect; Jacquot is just sending postcards from the void.
Opens April 29