‘Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream’ Review: Writing With Movies

Frank Beauvais’s pastiche “Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream” paints with a palette of 400-plus films. In 2016 Beauvais recovered from a breakup in an Alsatian village by filling his days with music, beer, pot, and torrents of movies. The cineaste monologues over clips from his half-year of viewing to create something resembling a dyspeptic novelist’s journals.

The magic trick of recycling cinema has a long tradition from the Soviet filmmaker Esfir Shub’s “Fall of the Romanov Dynasty” to Bruce Conner’s avant-garde classic “A Movie” to Christian Marclay’s installation “The Clock.” Beauvais and his editor, Thomas Marchand, use the stream of (soundless) snippets as a psychological EKG, illustrating his spoken words more often than opening up ambiguities. Even when the clips come from films by well-known directors, they seem chosen to head off the frisson of recognition, though Beauvais name-drops some sources and touchstones (Vernon Subutex, Hermann Hesse, Blake Edwards, Bonnie Prince Billy).

Mostly he despairs about terrorism and capitalism after bombings in France, vents about the tedium of conservative Alsace and his own inertia, and laments that his father died while watching an Occupation-era drama. He has a happy community of friends in Paris, filmmaker visitors, and a helpful (if oddly underrepresented) mother. But his images breathe isolation: amid the anonymous figures, disembodied hands, hard-to-place curios and assorted bleak moments, faces are rare.

By the time Beauvais dismisses some chestnut trees as “bland,” the movie screams nothing so much as the pained self-absorption of depression — an anguished revelation, but dead-on.

Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream
Not rated. In French, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes. Watch through Film Forum’s Virtual Cinema.

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