A pretty French girl laying about a grubby flat smoking cigarettes, being grumpy about music and wearing just a gig t-shirt and knickers, undoubtedly channels some nostalgia for a certain kind of music nerd. It’s beautifying the grubby underground of any arty alternative type. With 40-plus years hindsight, every detail of the set becomes a clue or a memory depending on the viewers own experience.
The girl in question is the films protagonist Ana (played by the captivating Alma Jodorowsky) an artistic technological music pioneer who has to handle 70’s Paris, everyday sexism, machinery malfunctions and The Biz while trying to get her wall of knobs and buttons to make beautiful artificial sounding music.
Ana’s life on screen is rich in references via the posters, book covers, LP sleeves and retro tech from the analogue electronica era that make up the set. There are needle drops on curios and genre staples that help the uninitiated find their feet and understand this world. For those deeply submerged in that scene this movie is a playing right to the fetish of it all. I fell somewhere between the two and was completely seduced by Le Choc Du Futur (subtitled The Shock Of The Future).
The film is essentially a single-set bedroom play where characters enter stage right to visit Ana as she works on a song for a big event. The bedroom set is only swapped for a night out in Paris when the track is completed in the final act.
Rock gets written off as ‘too fifties’, the spoken voice as ‘too boring’. As for studios, drummers and backing singers? They are declared ‘over’. It’s The Human League, Throbbing Gristle, Aksak Maboul that are the brand new bag Ana and her circle of bored boho types are digging the most.
The arrival of a beat box (a CR-78 to be precise) is the inciting incident that rocks Ana’s world. In one spectacular monologue, she gives an impassioned rant about the future of dance music that envisions rave culture 20 years before it is fully realised.
The films’ director Marc Collin (of “bossa nova cover famous” Nouvelle Vague) has written a love letter to the era that inspired his band of 21st century retro sounds. He’s reimagined himself as a pretty French lass (be honest, who hasn’t?) and through this fiction made tribute to real characters like Delia Derbyshire (of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) and Clara Rockmore (classical violinist who made waves with the theramin).
This movie does not do a lot more than take you back ‘there’. If your ‘there’ is 1978 Paris it is probably rich in detail and observational nuance. If your ‘there’ is a youth spent on the musical fringes of a scene, I’m sure you recognise the characters. If your ‘there’ was just going to parties, people watching or spending the day listening to pop music with your friends. Well, even then there is still something lovely and human at the centre of this girl’s obsession with “Robots creating electronic music but for dancing”.
Who wouldn’t want to spend the night at that particular shindig?