At a time when many young French helmers are heading to the suburban projects for gritty immigrant dramas, Judith Cahen has stayed on traditional turf in Paris’ Latin Quarter. Intellectual questioning, gentle student humor and deliberate naivete mark Cahen’s “The Crusade of Anne Buridan.” A featurette and short stitched together, this tiny-budget arthouse curio for lovers of Left Bank soul-searching should please a small local crowd before being consigned to the vaults.
Writer-director Cahen plays the title role in the hourlong “Crusade.” Her Anne is an uncompromisingly intelligent student vidmaker in search of answers to such probing questions as: What do you do with your desires? When are you willing to compromise? What is a political act nowadays?
Pic follows Anne as she puts these questions to her chain-smoking, loquacious circle of politically committed friends. At the same time, as a counterpoint, she fantasizes about an unintellectual male dancer (Joel Luecht).
In the second and shorter work, “Strictement Footinguesque” (roughly, “Strictly Jogging-like”), the same character tries to decide whether she’ll let herself be picked up by a jogger. As in the rest of pic, the paralysis of over-analysis is examined in loving detail.
Almost rescued by the helmer’s healthy dose of self-deprecating humor, “Crusade” is throughout a talkfest reminiscent of leftish experimental pics made in the heyday of ’60s activism. Cahen evidently feels that such an approach is not dated, and has introduced an accelerated sense of rhythm absent from those features. The endless conversations, however, remain vaguely familiar, as do the uneven tech credits. Each of the two segs has its own main and end titles.