Watch Providence

"A Movie of Rare Intelligence"
  • R
  • 1977
  • 1 hr 50 min
  • 7.5  (3,471)

Providence is a 1977 British-French film directed by Alain Resnais and written by David Mercer. The film stars Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn, John Gielgud, and David Warner in the leading roles. The film is a psychological drama that explores the themes of memory, identity, and relationships. The film begins with Claude Langham (Dirk Bogarde), a successful novelist and playwright, collapsing in his study. When he wakes up in the hospital, he's unable to remember what happened leading up to his collapse. Despite being haunted by the spectres of death and dying, he's discharged and sent home.

Back at home, Claude begins to write a new play. As he writes, he begins to remember his past, struggling to piece together fragmented memories of his father, his wife Sonia (Ellen Burstyn), his daughter and his mistress/assistant Carla (Elaine Stritch) from the tangled mess of his mind.

Claude's memories are presented as fragmented and disjointed sequences, in which his past and present intermingle. We see him as a young boy with his father, who is abusive and cruel. We see his relationship with Sonia, which has been marked by infidelity and bitterness since the death of their daughter. We see the strained relationship between him and his mistress, who is also an alcoholic and whom he has relied on more and more for support.

As he writes and remembers, Claude creates and tries to come to terms with the different identities he has had throughout his life. He is a writer, father, husband, and son. He is also a gay man in a society that doesn't accept homosexuality as a legitimate identity.

As the play progresses, the lines between reality and fiction blur. Claude's creative process is perceived as a reflection of his life as a whole, where he is the unreliable narrator trying to make sense of his own past. The play itself reflects Claude's own life to such an extent that it becomes difficult to distinguish between the two.

The film paints a picture of a man struggling to reconcile with his past and present, only to realize that they are inexorably intertwined. It's a fascinating exploration of human pain and suffering, and how we try to cope with it by creating art that speaks to our own experiences.

The performances in the film are exceptional. Dirk Bogarde delivers a subtle and understated performance as Claude Langham, capturing the agony and frustration that he feels as he tries to remember his past. Ellen Burstyn plays the embittered and deeply unhappy Sonia with great sympathy and nuance, capturing the essence of a woman who has suffered a great deal but is determined to keep going. John Gielgud is excellent as the father - cold, tyrannical and cruel, he plays the part with great relish.

The film's visuals are stunning. The fragmented and disjointed nature of the flashbacks is reflected in the cinematography, with the camera often moving in and out of focus to emphasize the fleeting nature of memory. The production design and set decoration capture the period perfectly, transporting the viewer back to the 1930s and 1940s with great authenticity.

Providence is a fascinating and deeply moving film about memory, trauma and the creative process. It explores the many facets of a single human life with great subtlety and complexity, offering a deeply nuanced and affecting portrait of a man struggling with his past and present. With exceptional performances and stunning visuals, it is a masterpiece of psychological drama that will stay with viewers long after the credits have rolled.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 50 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (3,471)