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L'enfant secret (18*)

After the Wave: Young French Cinema in the 1970s

Photo of a couple embracing in bed

This muted melodrama, based on the director’s own life and relationship with German singer Nico, gives succinct expression to the shattered aftermath of May ‘68.

Elie (Anne Wiazemsky) and Jean-Baptiste (Henri de Maublanc) meet, fall in love and, together with her son from an earlier relationship, attempt to build a life together in Paris. But Elie, fragile and drifting, has no steady job; Jean-Baptiste, an independent filmmaker, has a breakdown and winds up in a mental hospital.

After more than a decade working in an austere avant-garde vein, this film marked director Philippe Garrel’s return to narrative. It is also a veiled account of his own private struggles and speaks to a wider contemporary feeling of bitter political disappointment. A quiet film of beautiful, grainy black-and-white images, it has the feel of something painful but precious brought back from a distant place.

Tagged with: Cinema After the Wave

France 1979 Dir Philippe Garrel 95 min Digital presentation

* Locally classified by the City of London Corporation

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