Rifkin's Festival: the laziest version of Woody Allen opens the San Sebastian Festival

Rifkin's Festival: the laziest version of Woody Allen opens the San Sebastian Festival

The New York filmmaker opens the COVID contest with a walk through his cinephile memory as charming as it is relaxed and self-indulgent

Rifkin's Festival: the laziest version of Woody Allen opens the San Sebastian Festival

Until not so long ago, people went to the new Woody Allen movie like a ceremony with a mystical air, but very pagan. The grace of self-celebration was celebrated: few directors make their audience feel better. The intelligence of the most intelligent of directors has a fine and very tight device that forces the viewer, even for an hour and a half, to feel good, to feel intelligent. Not that it makes us smart, watch out. That is already the responsibility of genes, training or simply the diet low in saturated fat. Who knows. Let's say that the way between cheerfully pessimistic and blatantly self-indulgent, all at once, of feeling bad has made Woody Allen all this time so identical to any of us that it is inevitable that he will not see himself reflected for a moment in his fears, doubts and each of their anguish. The immodest display of his unpopularity made him terribly popular. And there it continues. Or not so much anymore.

'Rifkin's Festival' , the strangest opening film of the San Sebastian Festival in recent years, is basically one more step, perhaps the highest (or the lowest, depending on how you look), in this ceremony of collective self-condescension. Allen makes movies (this is if the counts are correct, the one that completes the number 49) as well as the one that fills in sudokus. The rules are strict. The accounts have to be settled. The pattern, with increasingly rare variations, is known: a man doubts himself convinced that life is denying him something. And so on until he realizes that the problem is not the food disgust that existence consists of; the problem is that the portions, despite everything, are terribly scarce. And so. The joke is Allen's, of course.

The film tells of a couple's trip to the San Sebastian Festival. She ( Gina Gershon ) is the representative of, in this case, a genuinely and brilliantly jerk director ( Louis Garrel in a frightening exercise of himself). He ( Wallace Shawn ) is a writer hell-bent on writing the masterpiece that he will never even be able to imagine. He is also a movie buff, apprehensive, a stammering speaker and, therefore, his responsibility is to act as the director's own ' alter ego '. Along the way, the latter will be dazzled by the beauty, poise and accent of his doctor (Elena Anaya), who cannot help but be fatally in love with another, with an artist ( Sergi López turned into the funniest and happiest of all ) as fickle as it is chaotic. Simpler, a Woody Allen movie. And period.

Rifkin's Festival: the laziest version of Woody Allen opens the San Sebastian Festival

Let's say that the director chooses not to complicate his life and re-shoots the usual in a setting that would seem identical to the usual one. You have to go back to 2013 with the irrefutable 'Blue Jasmine' to attend her latest stroke of genius. Since then, there have been five movies and an entire miniseries that have allowed us all to enjoy the most brilliantly lazy of creators. Allen is a tireless worker of his own laziness at the rate of one movie per year, except for the pause forced by boycott or COVID.

The film's greatest achievement is also its worst sin. At times, he interrupts the narration to recreate the dreams of timeless movies. And there appear 'Citizen Kane', 'Person', 'The exterminating angel' or, of course and instead of honor, 'The seventh seal' with Christoph Waltz in the role of Death. Welles, Buñuel, Begman or Fellini are among parodies and honored in a resource that seems both charming and terribly pedestrian. They are quotes from movies designed to be effortlessly recognized, placed in the memory of any viewer who is not too demanding for, and we go back to the beginning, to make us feel good; make us feel smart.

The ceremony therefore continues. He goes to an Allen movie, we said, like the less convinced believers attend a Latin mass. The content or the faith itself does not matter as much as the spectacle, the archaic and very old-fashioned theatricalization of the ceremony itself. The problem is that as time goes by, the director demands more and more from an increasingly disbelieving viewer. We like to meet again with the abused genius; We appreciate your willingness to travel the world always ready to make a new movie … and that's it. You leave the cinema, you see the usual … how little it lasts to feel intelligent! Every time less.

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