Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) Image
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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: This magical tale recounts the adventures of Julie, a librarian, and the flamboyant Celine, a magician of sorts - a kind of White Rabbit who leads Julie right through the Looking Glass into a world of her imagination. With the help of some magic, memory-inducing candy, Celine and Julie get plugged into a bizarre drama in a mysterious, possibly haunted, house. They enter the house in the guise of nurses and encounter two women, who are in love with the same man. The man
    is a widower who had promised his wife that he would not remarry as long as their invalid daughter was alive. As the competition in the triangle reaches a murderous level, the high spirited heroines plot a daring rescue of the young victim. (New Yorker Films)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    May 2, 2012
    The playfulness of Rivette's sublime female-buddy picture, recalling the fun of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," would inform Susan Seidelman's "Desperately Seeking Susan" 11 years later. But its greatest descendant is David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," another film about two women erotically attached, a house with a secret, and transformation.
  2. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    May 2, 2012
    By the time they've taken full control of the movie's alternate universe-as the melodrama morphs with marvelous ease into a musical comedy-you feel like anything is possible. Cinema this alive is a rare bird, indeed.
  3. Reviewed by: Joseph Jon Lanthier
    May 2, 2012
    Don't let the women's smirks and wordplay fool you: The fact that art is eternal often makes it more horrifying than life itself.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Sep 29, 2013
    This Jacques Rivette’s genre-defying opus is an unsung hero upon its release in 1974, but 40 years later when we are all stumped in light of the cornucopia of derivative outputs, this masterpiece attests that it is never too late to burrow into historical archives, advocate some hidden gems and introduce them to the fast food generation, and CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING could overtly widen one’s filmic horizon by its unprecedented storytelling and the contagious jovial aura.

    We are like in a blind man’s bluff, the film begins with a head-scratching hide-and-seek tailing between Julie, a librarian and Celine, an amateurish magician, we will never know from the context whether they are acquaintances before or the first-sight attraction draws them closer, after a chirpy episode of putting out feelers, they lives together in a small apartment, where Celine casually mentions of her unpleasant experience working as a nanny for a mystified ménage-à-trois family, it intrigues Julie’s curiosity, from then on, a very unique ghost-house yarn has been ingeniously unveiled through Celine and Julie’s multiple impersonations as the reserved nanny in a boudoir drama.

    The film is such a pioneer in its blending liberal modus operandi of whimsicality (the first half looks like everything is done impromptu) with elaborately calculated ad hoc murder scheme, Celine and Julie’s laid-back and bubbly kindred spirit permeates the film and modulates its rhythm and pulse up to a labyrinthine fantasy, utterly absorbing and an influential progenitor to many future rule-breakers (MEMENTO 1999, 10/10 for instance).

    It is a diptych in its cinematographic style as well, the insouciant nouvelle vague influence vs. a multi-angle observation indoors, which magnify Berto and Labourier’s disparate temperaments, intensify Ogier and Pisier’s distinctive mystique and functionally wrap us up into this whodunit during the long-haul.

    Meanwhile, Rivette adequately leaves viewers many open threads to chew on, like the jumpy intercutting of the shots in the house during Celine’s magic show, is a perplexing maneuver to lure us into the mystery, and it works. Also, one snippet when they let a coin to decide whose turn to visit the mansion, Julie cannily says “head I win, tail you lose”, one should not miss the ephemeral stimulation which plainly gives more credits than its ostensible spontaneity.

    At first glance, its 193 minutes running time looks daunting, but as I watched it separately in two days, it turned out pretty well. It is a film can wholly alter one’s notion of story-telling in an anti-cinematic methodology, and Rivette pulls it off effortlessly, a must-see for all thirsty film gourmets plus, it has a sterling ending which will make all its time worth the wait.