From “Irma Vep” to “Demonlover” to “Summer Hours,” Olivier Assayas has been one of the world’s most vital filmmakers for some time now, but it seems many only caught wise to his gifts two years ago with “Carlos,” his galvanizing five-hour biopic of infamous 1970s political terrorist Carlos the Jackal. Thanks to its unusual release both in cinemas and as a TV miniseries, the film managed to win Assayas a slew of US critics’ awards, a TV Golden Globe and even an Emmy nomination. (If that wasn’t surreal enough, he lost to “Downton Abbey.”)
It’ll be interesting to see if the Frenchman’s newly acquired admirers follow him to “Something in the Air,” a softer, woozier, faintly autobiographical reflection on an equivalent period of 1970s radicalism to “Carlos.” You may also know the film as “After May,” a literal translation of the French title being used in other territories. It’s also the one used in the first international trailer for the film, which we’re pleased to premiere below — by kind permission of Australian distributor Palace Films.
A shimmery ensemble piece casting its gaze upon a group of teenage activists variously finding their own place in the post-1968 countercultural war, it takes more cues from Assayas’ 1994 breakthrough feature “Cold Water.” IFC Films is releasing the film Stateside in 2013; Artificial Eye will be doing the honors in the UK.
Received enthusiastically in Venice, where Assayas wound up winning the Best Screenplay award from Michael Mann’s jury, this very European memory piece has since played both the Toronto and New York fests to warm applause, if not quite the critical hosannas inspired by “Carlos.” Meanwhile, it’s just been released in France to an vastly positive critical response. I’m looking forward to a revisit; having admired it on first acquaintance, I sense it could still be a grower. From my own review:
“Assayas’s film will put many in mind of Bertolucci’s ‘The Dreamers,’ compared to which it’s both springier and less insipid … Assayas might well believe that revolutionary cinema should be revolutionary in its construction … The more pertinent question he seems to be asking is whether the figures at the heart of his story, a version of himself among them, merit revolutionary cinema at all … As beautifully directed as you’d expect, “Something in the Air” is a film rich in such wry reversals.”
Check out the trailer below, and share your thoughts. Are you looking forward to Assayas’ latest? And who agrees with me that “After May” is a much better title than “Something in the Air?”