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551 Ratings

Les hautes solitudes

Directed by Philippe Garrel
France, 1974
  • Silent
  • No subtitles


Garrel convinced Jean Seberg—in the midst of a long struggle with mental illness, alcohol and drug— to “star” in this silent document of her daily life. Consisting mostly of meditative B&W close-ups of Seberg and her friends, as her torments and inner life flicker across her eerily beautiful face.

Our take

Described by Garrel himself as “a film made out of the outtakes of a film that never existed,” this is a silent, transfixing portrait shot on elegiac black and white recalling Andy Warhol’s famed screen tests. Brace yourself for a prophetic, utterly poignant scene foreshadowing Jean Seberg’s death.

Les hautes solitudes Directed by Philippe Garrel
It is a raw experience. No title, no credits of any sort. No soundtrack—although I defy anyone to watch it in absolute silence and not “hear” something, at some point, in their head. Just a series of “moving images” (for once the currently fashionable artworld term is correct), portraits in black-and-white, mostly trained on faces, or the upper parts of several bodies. There is no make-up, only minimal lighting and staging, and no post-production effects or clean-up whatsoever.
February 24, 2017
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The film has both life—or if you prefer, presence, at its highest intensity—and style. The style comes in the way that Garrel shoots his subjects; I say this at the risk of stating the obvious, because without sound, narrative, or any significant action, all we have is the subjects and the way they are shot. But the film displays at once an extraordinary casualness and a very precise sense of form and composition.
February 23, 2017
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Few films elicit as many satisfyingly divergent responses as “Les Hautes Solitudes”… The film’s silence works as a kind of invitation, encouraging you to infer meaning and jump to conclusions as one image gives way to the next. You fill in the gaps between them, a process similar to how viewers create meaning through montage, shot by shot. The images in “Les Hautes Solitudes,” though, seem more casually strung together than assembled for specific meanings.
February 23, 2017
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