Master filmmaker Jacques Rivette returns to one of his favorite themes—life versus performance—in this elegant work, which begins with a chance encounter on a mountain road. After a 15-year absence, Kate returns to the town where her late father ran a small circus. When her car breaks down, she’s assisted by helpful stranger Vittorio; Kate thanks him by inviting him to attend a circus show. This is no Ringling Bros. extravaganza: Rivette’s circus takes place in a tiny, bare-bones setting, with clowns who haven’t quite mastered their acts. But Vittorio is immediately enchanted, following the troupe as they move from hamlet to hamlet. He’s also equally fascinated with the melancholy Kate and begins to slowly unravel the reasons why she stayed away for so long. The source of Kate’s sadness is presented in a series of monologues about secret histories and buried truths, flawlessly performed by Birkin. Though it deals with pain and despair, Around a Small Mountain is undeniably a buoyant film, filled with a sense of hope and wonder. As Vittorio reminds us, the circus is a place “where everything is possible”.
“The world is, once again, but a stage as Rivette revisits the realm of performers and performing with grace and charm. If this is an undeniable divertissement by a great director, it carries with it a sense of farewell, as Rivette, through his on-screen surrogates, takes a bow and bids us adieu.”
Scott Foundas, The Village Voice.
Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent & Jacques Rivette
Kate: Jane Birkin
Vittorio: Sergio Castellitto
Alexandre: André Marcon
Marlo: Jacques Bonnaffé
Clémence: Julie-Marie Parmentier
RUNNING TIME 84 MIN
PRODUCTION France, Italy, 2009
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, Digibeta, DVD
The Cinema Guild