Jacques Audiard’s “Sur Mes Levres (Read My Lips)” (1/24/12)

30 Sep

How does this film represent loneliness and isolation?

            Well, it actually seems to represent several different kinds of isolation. The negative effects of being in prison and then being reintroduced into society are some of them that Vincent seems to have to face when all this violence begins to occur. Quite obviously, there’s the isolation that the protagonist feels in her deafness – not only does she have trouble hearing, but in many cases she has trouble seeing the reason why she should listen and takes her hearing aids out. Presumably, this is because she has become so socially isolated that she perceives no meaning in hearing those who don’t understand her deafness. Lastly, I think romantic isolation becomes an issue throughout. As she’s deaf, the magnitude of missing out on love becomes a greater trauma, and she obsesses over having a man desire to look at her and listen to her. She has all those moments in her apartment alone trying on different things in the mirror, eventually moving toward practicing to dance because he works at a club and I would assume she wants to impress him or at least feel wanted in some way.


How do sound and editing exemplify the feeling of claustrophobia?

            The director utilizes many close-ups and many of them are dark as well. Especially in the final scene where the two finally embrace in what’s suggested to be a love scene, the director closes in on their hands, necks, hips, etc. The score plays a decent part in the film’s tension but is honestly somewhat forgettable as mere suspense music – similar surprisingly to the score of Ghost, romantic at one scene and strict in another.


How is work culture represented?

            More often than not, the instance of work in France seems to represent a means to an end – everybody only goes because their bills need paid. While an office job is apparently strongly valued in France as we learned in class, there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm on screen. Where the presence of competition can defend that there remains “life” in the workplace, the repetitiveness of faxing, mailing, scanning, and other duties are seen by Cassel’s character. It also seems like an extension of the social scene for our deaf protagonist, constantly forced into situations where she’s judged or feels as if she’s being judged.


Carla’s desires? Ambivalence toward disability in the film?

            There’s a scene towards the beginning where Carla is out with her friend or sister, I’m not sure if it’s ever really clarified yet it may have been. However, a deaf man comes up to her with what I assume is an event advertisement and she basically tells him to scram. She feels as if he thinks there’s a sort of comradery in their deafness, however, he seems rather innocent in this scene. I would take this to mean that Carla’s desire to be normal has outgrown her struggle with being deaf – that even though she has daily trials, it’s more important to her that people see her as regular.


Not hearing enough to knowing too much?

            Quite the interesting question considering that reading lips becomes a huge plot point in the film, and to an extent, you could say that even by the end she doesn’t “hear enough” but she starts to know too much about Cassel because he lets her know – and on top of that has a list of duties for her to follow. He holds the client he stole for her over her head so she will read lips on a nightly basis for him. Another interesting choice by the director was this on-screen obsession with the lips, as he uses many closeups on lips especially in scenes where she reads them. There are many constricting themes that these scenes seem to suggest about communication altogether: the quickness of it, how its taken for granted, etc.


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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Scholarly Essays/Responses


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