Once Luke returns to his provincial city, a pre-teen love affair, a run-up with Genevieve (Louise Shillotte), immediately heats up. Luke, eager in the chase, proves to be craving in commitment. He continues to seduce Jemila from afar. He seems to be achieving an all-too-normal male “adulthood”: that is, one of deceiver and self-servant, interrupted by duality of conscience that does nothing but flatter the idea of himself.
When Genevieve tells Luke that she is pregnant, her response is petulant: “You can’t do that to me.” Once he is back in Paris, he is content to see a girl whom he says in a café, “Back off or I’ll call the police.”
Garrel’s films often feel unstable over time. In this photo, in a dance club, the characters sing brilliantly in a witty, stylized manner to a song by the 1970s French band Telexon. But the sharp touch here, as the young woman tells Luke to shut down and a multi-layered double-date disruption by the elder, reflects the filmmaker’s understanding of the contemporary world.
“Tears of salt” is much more than the progress of a cad. The story features the fleeting shadows of Flaubert, created by Gargle in collaboration with two venerable screenwriters, Jean-Claude Carrier and Arlette Langman. “He asked himself if he knew love,” noted the film’s Discipline Narrator at one point; Luke concludes that he is not, as he is not yet destroyed by emotion.
A romance with a third woman, the free-spirited Betsy (Souhila Yakub), grinds Luke down a bit, especially when he invites one of her old lovers to live with them in Luke’s shoe-box apartment. But Luke’s real absence comes from a completely different relationship, and for Garrel it’s particularly clever. The director’s additional style allows him to achieve maximum emotional impact using relatively traditional effects; When he presents a rare close-up, it not only makes itself felt in the moment, but also determines the film’s disastrous finale.
Salt of tears
Not rated. In French, with subtitles. Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes. See here Film forum.