Movie Diary 9/10/2019

Lilith (Robert Rossen, 1964). It surely is one of the most interesting films of its moment – interesting in large part because it exists at all, in the way it exists. This was Rossen’s next film after The Hustler, and his last. To say that he was trying out some new things is an understatement; this thing is arty like nobody’s business, a wildly clumsy but sincere attempt to get in on all this stuff the Europeans are doing. Warren Beatty apparently pressed to cut a lot of his dialogue, and I don’t think this works; there are too many moments where his character (a vaguely troubled military veteran) just sits there cocking his head at the other person in the conversation. Maybe Steve McQueen would’ve brought enough internal roil to make those kinds of moments live, but Beatty doesn’t. Jean Seberg is effectively brittle as the psychiatric patient he assists and falls for, and Kim Hunter has an almost eerie stillness as a hospital administrator. Peter Fonda is a patient infatuated with Seberg, and his talkativeness is closer to the way the actor was in real life than the taciturn dudes he often played. The film is compositionally dynamic (shot by Eugene Shüfftan), often puzzling, sometimes obvious. It builds to an unexpectedly moving final moment.

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