director Leos Carax
I don’t know why French director Leos Carax’s 1986 film Mauvais Sang isn’t as well known as, say Wim Wenders’ 1987 film Wings of Desire. Both are gems of mid-1980’s European hipster art house cinema. Cooler than cool.
In my life, at least, Wenders and Wings of Desire were very dominant. Maybe it was the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds element. Maybe because Wenders was already more established. Who knows?
I hadn’t seen a Leos Carax film before watching Holy Motors (2012) a couple years ago. And while I liked it, I don’t know that other titles of his films jumped out at me. I believe I’ve had his 1999 film Pola X in my queue for some time, maybe in part because Netflix hasn’t had it available for a long while. But after looking over his short but significant filmography, I don’t know why he is not better known.
Mauvais Sang is set in the semi-future, though it’s not in any way real science fiction. There is a disease, STBO, that is ravishing humanity with painful, leprosy-like symptoms and death. The disease is transmitted sexually, between those who have sex yet are not in love.
The film is a bit more like a French noir of sorts, revolving around the attempted theft of a drug that would cure STBO and some career criminals, a mysterious American, and a beautiful woman. Like most of Carax’s films, it stars Denis Lavant, here very very young. His look is like a teenage David Johansen, and he has a charisma utterly unique. There is also a teenage July Delpy. And a very young and very beautiful Juliette Binoche, the mysterious moll of the aging thief Marc (Michel Piccoli).
It’s a stylish, cool affair. It reminded me at times of contemporary Wenders or David Lynch, though it is very much its own thing.
A very appealing film. Should be better known than it is.