Wild Grass marks the latest film from octogenarian filmmaker Alain Resnais and its essence is so French that the film should be marketed in America as Les herbs folles, its original title. Wild Grass sounds like the sequel to sheep farming docu Sweetgrass. Although as a metaphor, little tufts of unruly grass growing up through the cracks in our psyche seems to be what Resnais aims for.
You know how some movies end with the revelation that the protagonist was just dreaming? In Les herbs folles the big reveal falls more along the lines of the director messing with your mind. We leave more confused than we entered, thinking about a punch line that involves previously unseen cats and munchies. Early on Resnais shows us a character working behind the counter of a department store. Later that same character appears working as a dental assistant. Another character has voiceover thoughts that suggest he may be a killer but these voices turn out to be more manipulation from Resnais.
As a film, Les herb folles moves gracefully with a carefully controlled palette. Resnais can attract top talent due to his reputation, but even such seasoned performers as André Dussollier, Emmanuelle Devos, Sabine Azéma or Mathieu Amalric occasionally look lost. If you’re in the mood for a lark, then this is your croissant; otherwise the blades of grass on display hold no solace.
– Michael Bergeron