BAM’s IFC Films tribute opens with a twin premiere run: the latest from Philippe Garrel and Christophe Honoré — aka the Louis Garrel in Love double feature. In his father’s Frontier of Dawn he’s a weak-willed, free-spirited photographer who falls in love twice and is literally haunted by his first amour, an alcoholic actress (Laura Smet), after her suicidal bender. Garrel’s amazing feel for the communion of a relationship comes to the fore; as often before, key scenes occur on bare floors or lolling on beds, and the rest of the world can seem a sketch of a memory. In a way, Smet’s volatile Carole is a portal to his more austere and elliptical past films, especially (and, again, literally on the portal part) when a wispily delicate daughter of wealth (Clémentine Poidatz) becomes her successor. Director of Photography William Lubtchansky, who also shot Regular Lovers, shoots again in high-contrast black-and-white and captures the sculpted curvature of Smet’s face and angles in empty apartments.
In Honoré’s La Belle Personne, Garrel is a high school teacher macking on the new girl (fellow boxer-puffy beauty Léa Seydoux), who’s yet one more damaged creature in this double bill and an object of fascination. A heartbreaker (though without his heart in it), Garrel is only one moving part among several in the Paris school’s romantic swirl of teenagers modeling winter casuals. It’s hard to get a handle on Honoré’s self-serious characters, introduced in corridor and classroom blurs, nor does the cast master a script (adapted from or credentialed by a 17th-century novel) whose larger movements feel disembodied. Honoré however convenes a powerful ensemble of hair to support Garrel’s fabled mane.