Starring: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Bernard Fresson
Director: Alain Resnais
Running Time: 90 mins
Hiroshima Mon Amour is a French film about an actress who, whilst shooting a movie in Hiroshima, meets a man with whom she shares her deepest feelings about war, peace and love.
This is a very heavy-going emotional drama that delves extremely deep into the themes of war and love. The performances are stunning, the dialogue and screenplay is excellent, and the directing is sublime, making this one of the most impressive films you’ll ever see. However, it is at times so heavy-going and contemplative that it is often very difficult to really grasp what’s going on.
Let’s start by talking about what this film actually is, because it’s tough to get a hold of once you start off watching it. Basically, the entire movie revolves around the conversations between a French woman and a Japanese man she has met while filming in Hiroshima, and that’s it.
The film shows images/reconstructions of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and looks at that actual event, but the main core of the story is just watching these two people talk, and taking in all that they are expressing.
On the one hand, it’s a marvel how successfully this film pulls that premise off. The dialogue is gripping, and the performances by Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada are riveting, expertly holding your attention from start to finish despite the incredibly abstract and patient atmosphere that prevails in this film.
What’s more is that Alain Resnais’ direction is fantastic. The shots of the pair’s conversations are largely very close to their faces, adding a very personal and heightened emotional feel to every scene, whilst the way that the film is edited, switching backwards and forwards between flashbacks and the current conversations is fascinating to watch, and so adds an extra layer of drama that would be missing if this were simply just a 90-minute conversation.
As a result, there’s so much to be impressed and intrigued by in this film, making it a truly compelling watch. However, the problems then set in when you want to learn more about its deeper meaning.
Unfortunately, seeing as you’re so interested in the story, you want to know as much about everything that’s going on as possible, but as some of the more abstract themes, meanings and interpretations are often very hard to grasp, it can be a little frustrating.
For the more learned, I’m sure it is an incredible film to watch, but for people who just can’t quite get everything that’s going on beneath the surface, it proves often frustrating, so despite the technical and dramatic excellence that this film has, that’s why I’m giving Hiroshima Mon Amour a 7.6.