Bad Blood: Leos Carax’s Cult Movie, Starring Juliette Binoche, Denis Levant, Julie Delpy

Bad Blood (in French Mauvais Sang), Leos Carax’s iconic second feature, made in 1986, opened at Film Forum with a new restoration in November 2013.

Four of France’s greatest actors star in the film, Denis Levant, Juliette Binoche, Michel Piccoli, and the very young Julie Delpy.

The film is not so much a bout the plot, as about the particular and eccentric telling. Marc and Hans, two old gangsters, are ordered by a rival, the American woman, to repay a debt. They plan to steal the vaccine for a mysterious virus, STBO, which affects those who make love without being in love and is wreaking havoc among teenagers.

After the death of their associate Jean, the two accomplices call on his son, Alex, known as “Chatterbox,” who is a talented conjuror. Alex, who has just left his girlfriend Lise, falls madly in love with a girl in a white dress he sees on a bus. Her name is Anna and she turns out to be Marc’s mistress.

Allusions to the AIDS plague (in the film STBO) take the shape of a fictional virus that infect young individuals (adolescents), “who make love without love,” obsessed with sex without caring about its consequences for them and for others.

When it came out, Bad Blood was immediately declared as an original, iconic, purely delightful feature whose tone is bittersweet and imagery beautifully haunting

Inspired by Godard, with touches from Cocteau, Carax infuses his self-reflexive film with allusions to and touches of cinema greats, from Griffith and Chaplin to Jean Cocteau.

End result is a series of epiphanies that at once make the film idiosyncratic as well as intoxicating curiosity.

Only a director as well informed and as passionate as Carax could have made this rather intriguing picture.  From the beginning, he showed more concern for tone, mood, and visuals in his pulpy films than plot or characters.

Running time: 128 Minutes.