Review: Criterion's Edition of 'Céline And Julie Go Boating' Worth Heralding

by Sam Cohen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday March 16, 2021

Review: Criterion's Edition of 'Céline And Julie Go Boating' Worth Heralding

Like all the Jacques Rivette films I've seen, the truth within "Céline and Julie Go Boating" is elusive, darting across where you think it's going to go and coyly heckling you as it rushes past.

Rivette is rightfully acclaimed for his contribution to the French New Wave and filmmaking in general, but he's one of the rare filmmakers whose work becomes more and more respected the closer it's inspected and appraised. This particular film is the perfect argument as to why: Rivette was a filmmaker who could tap into the magical and rewrite the rules of fiction while doing so.

"Céline and Julie Go Boating" comes to Blu-ray in the U.S. for the first time with an incredible release from The Criterion Collection.

The new 1080p presentation, sourced from a 2K restoration of the original 16mm camera negative, is stunning, replete with lush colors and thick film grain that makes Rivette's elegant touches sing.

In addition, the feature is housed on one disc with a high bitrate, so the transfer looks great. The second disc offers a slew of special features.

Julie (Dominique Labourier), a daydreaming librarian, and her friend Celine (Juliet Berto), a magician, turn a nice day at the park into a time-traveling, anything-goes romp that threatens to transcend space and time. When they stumble upon a murder, they turn into detectives trying to right a wrong before it's too late.

Standing at 193 minutes, "Céline and Julie Go Boating" work a filmmaker turns out when a project falls apart: Full of improvisation and experimentation.

Though, it takes a strong filmmaker to have your unfiltered ID and commitment to collaboration with other artists drive you to create, simply because you must. Even with the daunting length, every minute is filled with a sense of wonder that feels radical. The film is dense with information, tricks and missives that ensnare you in their allure.

Special features include:

Audio commentary from 2017 featuring critic Adrian Martin

"Jacques Rivette: Le veilleur," a 1994 two-part feature documentary by Claire Denis, featuring an extensive interview with Rivette by film critic Serge Daney

New interviews with actor Bulle Ogier and producer and actor Barbet Schroeder

New conversation between critic Pacôme Thiellement and Hélène Frappat, author of Jacques Rivette, secret compris

Archival interviews with Rivette, Ogier, and actors Juliet Berto, Dominique Labourier, and Marie-France Pisier

New English subtitle translation

PLUS: An essay by critic Beatrice Loayza and a 1974 piece by Berto

"Céline and Julie Go Boating" is now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.