A story of love and social paranoia in an unusual unsettling comedy The Arab in love and the streetwalker for Alain Guiraudie used to telling intense dramas. Mauro Donzelli’s review.
To reinvent himself he decides to rely on characters dug out of the folds of a provincial town, marginal witnesses suddenly thrust into the middle of the action, in a society prey to paranoia and obsession linked to the appearance of his neighbor, while terrorist attacks they strike. Alain Guiraudie comes from provincial and rural France, with a pronunciation far from the round sweetness of Paris, where the priorities are perhaps even the same – in a nutshell the search for love – but are pursued with different rhythms. Having emerged at 50 from a career as a rigorous storyteller of popular culture thanks to the critical triumph of de The Stranger of the Lakemasterful story about the obsession of love and death, Alain Guiraudie leaves behind his most pessimistic film, Rester vertical, on the horizontal landscapes between nature and disenchantment particularly dear to him, for a crooked. Of course always crooked and personalbut still a comedy after two particularly dark films.
The Italian title, worthy of a trio of cards from the Merchant at the fair, which we reproduce with listless ethical scruple – The lover, the Arab and the streetwalker – has at least the advantage of synthesizing, trivializing, how we are faced with a triangle.
First film with an urban setting, albeit in a wintery and gray Clermont-Ferrand, right in the center of France, in which Guiraudie abandons the sunny exteriors to often withdraw into interiors with heavy colors, out of fashion like a lurid carpet of a (generous) one-star hotel and many hours of paid sex. Precisely the place where the events of the curious couple of protagonists revolve, who first meet on the street on an ordinary day. Médéric is around thirty years old, Isadora is a prostitute of more than 50. The lover and streetwalker of the title. To add the Arab, suffice it to say that it is Selim, a young homeless man who settles in the other nerve center of this story: Médéric’s apartment.
A triangle between sex as a casual means of an otherwise impossible communication with listless words and a paranoia that mounts more and more in the city after a night attack in the city center. Needless to say the social microcosm of this small reality summarizes the social fears of a country that is observed with distrust, in which the neighbor could be too dark and suspicious, so that a threatening attitude is easy to spot. Whether it’s a clear misunderstanding doesn’t matter. Between desire and disenchantment, conspiracy and jealousy, this comedy delights with its tone oscillating between the absurd and the mad, with absolute feelings of childish tenderness. All starting from a coitus interrupted by the irruption of the terrorist upheaval, synthesis of a society in which everyday life loses its spontaneity and its so comfortable banality.
Arrives in Italy a few years late, but after an excess of reality he manages to impose a touch of lightness and madness on the narration on the fear of a society that lives in fear of a shot from a machine gun or a suspicious jacket. Why after all, it is we too who fear it, “this threat”, to benefit from a healthy dose of ridicule and anarchy, to defuse it with disenchantment and a little secular fatalism.