Le Combat Dans L’île

Alain Cavalier’s 1962 Le Combat Dans L’île isn’t a lost masterpiece—it’s too unstable for that—but it’s fascinatingly nervy. Right-wing militant Clément (Jean-Louis Trintignant) broods around the house, concerned that wife Anne (Romy Schneider) is acting like a slut. Clément’s a man of contradictions; when the negotiations he’s conducting on behalf of workers at his father’s factory break down, Clément grabs his bazooka and heads out to assassinate a politician. As that token summary implies, Combat isn’t overly concerned with coherence or a smooth arc. Instead, it’s a dizzying array of dialectics: Anne’s discovery of the bazooka against the background of her maid singing Offenbach is the neatest (and least extreme) reduction of revolutionary vs. counterrevolutionary dynamics here. Pierre Lhomme’s scintillating, jagged black-and-white cinematography is ahead of its time, and the film’s unexpectedly bifurcated structure sends Trintignant into the ether for almost the entire back half. There’s a surprise every five minutes, except when fascism gets its ass kicked at the end. (NR) VADIM RIZOV

Nov. 6-8, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 7, 2 & 4 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 8, 2, 4 & 6 p.m.; Wed., Nov. 11, 8 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 12, 8 p.m., 2009

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