From my Spring 2006 DVD column in Cinema Scope (“Global Discoveries on DVD”). Although this is sadly no longer in print, one can at least access most of its contents in an André Delvaux box set available here; and for more material about Delvaux in general and this film in particular, go here. — J.R.
My selection of Rendez-vous à Bray (1971) by André Delvaux (1926-2002) as the best box set of the year in Masters of Cinema’s end-of-the-year poll as well as one of the best in DVD Beaver’s (even though they point out that technically, it was released in late 2004) prompts a bit of explanation. When I reviewed this Belgian film and period mood-piece for the April 1976 Monthly Film Bulletin, my appraisal began as follows: “An appealing foray into ambiguity that uses ellipsis as a kind of erotic invitation, Rendezvous at Bray largely wins one over because its more modest ambitions are so gracefully realized. Derived from a short story by Julien Gracq —- a writer whose rather specialized terrain seems midway between the Gothic novel and Surrealism —- its boundaries are clearly marked by its cozy range of cultural references and its attractive period atmosphere, both of which allow for fireside reveries more nourishing to the imagination than to any prolonged analysis.”
The erotic spells of Anna Karina and Bulle Ogier in the film as well as other virtues must have wound up counting for much more than my demurrals, because when I first heard about a box set devoted to this film last fall, in a post by Fred Patton to the excellent chat group “a film by” (http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/a_film_by/message/31667), I was amazed at how vividly the sensual allure of this film remained firmly lodged in my memory, and I decided I had to hunt down a copy.… Read more »