Friday, 7 March 2008

FFF Preview: Boxes - by Robert Duffin

Director: Jane Birkin
Screenwriter: Jane Birkin
Certificate: TBC
Running Time:95 mins

French Film Festival Screening Times:
Glasgow GFT 8th March 6pm
Edinburgh Filmhouse 9th March 6pm
London Cineworld 12th March 1,3,7pm

Jane Birkin, swingin’ 60s London icon, celebrates her 60th year by making her directorial debut with Boxes. Birkin first appeared as a model in Antonioni’s masterful Blowup, and then cemented herself in pop culture history by recording the number one single ‘Je T’aime…moi non plus’ with her then husband, French chanson Serge Gainsbourg. While appearing in films and making music over the next three decades, she has collaborated with a variety of artists from Feist and Franz Ferdinand to Yann Tiersen and Rufus Wainwright.

The loosely biographical narrative of Boxes follows Anna (played by Birkin) as she relocates to her new home in Brittany and literally unleashes the ghosts of her past as she rifles through and unpacks boxes. The film may have been made on the cheap, but Birkin has clearly pulled in the favours, attracting a starry cast including John Hurt, Geraldine Chaplin, Michel Piccoli, Tcheky Karyo, and Lou Doillon who step in to loosely represent everyone from the aforementioned Serge and daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jacques Doillon, and others from her rich and varied life.

Boxes does see Birkin at her most honest, and she doesn’t shy away from criticising herself. The performances of her collected chums are also universally interesting, however her handling of the surreal elements of the plotting leave a lot to be desired. The film is far too self-referential for it’s own good, and Birkin takes a story that could have been a universal tale of familial relationships and turns into a self-indulgent curio. She’s undeniably full of inventive ideas, but struggles to effectively transfer them to her chosen medium. Definitely a film for Birkin diehards only, and even they might find it a chore.

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