Mary Rose Cook's notebook

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Le Cousin Jules

I saw this at Film Forum. It was gorgeous.

It’s a documentary about an old couple who live on a farm. He is a blacksmith, she tends to the animals and cooks and cleans.

There are many fascinating details. The axel above the well that has been worn away in the middle by decades of winching up buckets of water. The huge bellows for the blacksmith’s fire, the leather more patch that not. The way the fire is lit. The way the metal is heated and worked. The wine kept in a barrel in an outhouse.

The husband and wife say almost nothing, besides remarks about the good coffee or requests for errands in the town.

The film looks very beautiful. The fields. The orange of the fire. The rich grey of the stone. In a way, it is too beautiful. What is probably a life with many privations is shown as a gilded communion with nature.

Half way through the film, you realise you haven’t seen the wife for a while. Now, based upon what you know of the couple, it is unlikely she has gone for a week away with the girls, or run off with another man. There is only one possible explanation for her absence: she is dead. Nothing is said. There is no voiceover to explain. There is just the man cooking. The man sewing on a button. The man fluffing the pillows on the bed.

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