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THERE are times when the one-word quotations featured in a movie's advertising are, to one's surprise, accurate. Such is the case for Alexander. It is "Happy!", "Funny!", "Impudent!", "Wisel", "Anarchist!", "Subversive!" and more. It is an amusing conception, has some excellent acting, superb photography, and beautiful French countryside, and is, finally, an evening well spent.
The basic plot is quite simple. Alexander Gartempe is a farmer, a hard-working farmer (because of his shrewish wife La Grande's relentless driving) who has acquired some 300 acres--quite a farm by American, let alone French, standards--which he must cultivate. By himself, of course.
But happily, this does not last. Without troubling you with the suitably gory details, La Grande is taken to her just reward. At the funeral, everyone asks Alexander what he will now do. He replies, "Nothing...nothing...me? ...nothing" to the line of mourners as it files by--until he finally realizes that is precisely what he intends to do--absolutely nothing.
And thus begins a two-month sleepathon that disrupts the order of an entire district and drives Alexander's neighbors to the brink of nervous breakdown before it is finally over. What ends it, and what almost happens to Alexander before he finally decides "to go see...", well, some things, one must discover for oneself.
Alexander ... well, Alexander (as he would say) must be everything a man would like to be, but above everything else he must have a sense of humor that is infectious (how else could he tolerate La Grande?). Phillippe Noiret has that sense of humor. He achieves that cliched, but still rare, level of acting, where you find it totally impossible to believe that he is an actor and not simply an extraordinary character that the director found and built a film around.
When Alexander first opened here, you had to stand in line for twenty minutes to half an hour in order to get in. The lines aren't quite as long now, and if you haven't seen it already, you should. In fact, even if you have seen it, see it again; on this film, there's no diminishing marginal utility.
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