Pretend for a moment that a film is nothing but an aesthetic object.
Then the aesthetic core of Les Brodeuses is the 120-second sequence around minute 36:Sequins do not usually want anything that micro-focused. It is OK for any project they sponsor to feature Monteverdi arias or sequined embroidery – they are not Visigoths; but they also need the mainstream plot, drama, especially love drama, best if fulfilled in the end. (And it is). But perhaps that conventional content (and it is very conventional: an older single woman dealing with her only son’s tragic death; a younger single woman trying to decide whether to keep her baby) also serves as a setting for the central scene, the way a ring might set a stone, the face the eye, the body the face, the altar its statue; the way swathes of dull Miltonese set the far-in-between moments of utter and disarming beauty. The aesthetic rule number one is that a beautiful object’s setting must be duller than it itself, or else it will exhaust the eye and steal the show. Not that the film is dull – it is all visually very beautiful; and the story is touching and well and intelligently told. But aesthetically speaking, everything in the film is duller than this sequence. As well it must: its beauty is difficult to match.
2/8/09: Good bye, South, Good bye has the same sort of aesthetic core: the four minute motorcycle ride through the hills around Chia-yi, the director's ultimate nostalgia trip; and mine, too)