The Lovers on the Bridge

Carax presents a beautiful and harrowing tale of love, in a most unlikely place.
The Lovers on the Bridge (1991)

Two hopelessly lost souls collide on a crumbling bridge, both trapped in a deadly cycle that dominates those in its clutches. Addiction, disease, poverty, famine – all part of a daily struggle that plagues their existence. For Alex, wrapping his lips around that oh so sweet glass canister is the highlight of the day. The concoction within surging through his veins, offering a way to forget but not a way out. Michèle has lost everything, new to this way of life she gives up all hope, wandering the streets looking for answers that don’t exist. Her way of coping is painting. Capturing beauty within the mundane, providing a snippet of what once was.

Even in these dark times, love can present itself. A different kind of love, forged from pain and desperation, offering a means of escape from a depressing reality. It’s at the halfway point that this two-way bond is fully formed, represented by a tumultuous display of fireworks fuelled by raw passion. An emotional crescendo, stretching as far as the eye can see, lighting up the sky with explosive intensity. Establishing itself as one of my favourite scenes of all time.

Denis Lavant was born to act in Carax’s films. His physical style and background in circus and dance are utilised to their full potential here in some stunning set pieces, but he can also deliver a beautifully nuanced performance at the click of a finger. His counterpart, Juliette Binoche, is certainly not overshadowed though. Her decisively raw performance perfectly captures the anguish of Michèle, as she comes to terms with hitting rock bottom.

One of my favourite songs is ‘Last Hope’ by Paramore. In its chorus, Hayley Williams blasts out “it’s just a spark, but it’s enough to keep me going”. It never fails to give me goosebumps and let me know that everything is going to be ok. That magical spark is translated here, in the form of The Lovers on the Bridge. Alex and Michèle’s story is a tale of two broken people with nothing left to lose, finding comfort within each other to lighten those stormy days. They may argue and fight, but ultimately are better off together than left alone in this cruel world. They have found their spark.

No matter how lost you may be, there will always be others following the same path. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet at the crossroads, if not, you’ll feel like losing hope. But know that love will stay by your side no matter how far you go.

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