La vie moderne
France, 2008, 90 minutes
Sat, May 2 / 3:45 / Kabuki / MODE02K
Mon, May 4 / 4:00 / Clay / MODE04Y
Wed, May 6 / 3:45 / Clay / MODE06Y
Raymond Depardon, the preeminent photojournalist turned filmmaker, doesn’t approach ethnography in its widely understood sense—the attempt to explain (or explain away) the Other. Living closely with his subjects in the course of filming, his interest is always in individuals. This is all the more so in his series on the changing landscape—physical, economic, emotional—of rural France, Profils Paysans, for Depardon spent his childhood on a farm. In Modern Life he returns to the Ardèche and the people he knows, both as a type from his youth and as individuals who appeared in his earlier films. At the center are the octogenarian Privat brothers, well named given their lonely, hardscrabble existence as bachelor dairy farmers whose way of life is threatened not only by diminishing grazing land and flocks, but by the arrival of a young nephew and his standoffish wife who have come to take over the business. The philosophical Raymond comments enigmatically, “The farmer’s lot has improved, but women’s lot has improved even more,” while taciturn Marcel grumbles, “Farming can’t be a job, it must be a passion.” Other subjects bear this out: an old couple still shoveling shit, because their children have gone the way of most rural youth—away; a farmer mourning the death of a cow (“one of his favorites”); a young couple trying, and failing, to make a go of raising goats. Of these intimate portraits of everyday passion and struggle, captured in a delicate, fading light, Depardon says, “I’ll sing out my love for these farms and farmers.”
West Coast Premiere.