Jealousy and infidelity stand close and intimate in Philippe Garrel’s slender, simple tale of an actor who moves out of the apartment he shares with his young daughter and girlfriend, and goes to live with his new love. So personal, like a clearly-penned diary entry, it comes as no surprise La Jalousie is something of a family affair. Shot in black and white, Philippe Garrel directs his son Louis (also playing ‘Louis’) as the lead, while his daughter, Esther, turns in a supporting role as Louis’ sibling. The narrative is closely based on Garrel’s late father, actor Maurice Garrel, who had deserted Philippe and his mother, to live with an actress, when his son was a young boy.
Male vulnerability casts a long shadow over each scene, and is hugely watchable as Louis adjusts to his new domestic life with Claudia (Anna Mouglalis). Claudia’s mood swings fill their tiny living space, and it is quickly evident she is insecure and depressed because she hasn’t had an acting job in years. There is little Louis can do to protect himself because he is in love. However Claudia’s idea of love doesn’t involve fidelity, which torments Louis, despite the fact that he freely kisses other women in his theatre company. When heartbreak strikes, he is driven to a drastic act.
The volcanic attraction between the two leads creates the smoke-grey in the film’s black and white, while Olga Milshtein’s performance as Charlotte, Louis’ daughter, is a bold light. Charlotte feels no jealousy as she adapts to her new situation with a charming, other-worldly sensitivity. Her magical intelligence sits like a fairytale alongside Louis and Claudia who are determined to follow only the fire in their hearts.
Director: Philippe Garrel