See CELESTE, and stay with it through its final, convulsive moments… and you will be privileged to experience one of the most profound tributes one art form has ever paid to another. (Andrew Sarris, VILLAGE VOICE)wp0fb12e3a.jpg

Eva Mattes as Céleste is remarkable. A country girl but not gauche, a quiet girl with an inner well of laughter and an endless source of strength that lets her keep vigil. She is plain in the sense of undecorated, and sometimes she is beautiful. Caretaker in the literal sense -- she takes care. (Claudia Cassidy, WFNT, 11/1/81)

It is not about a writer writing but about a rare friendship, in the course of which each person learns to respect the other’s particularity.  (Vincent Canby, NEW YORK TIMES, 10/6/82)

He tells her stories about society, male brothels and food. She tells him about her childhood. (Vincent Canby, NEW YORK TIMES,10/6/82)

Jürgen Arndt and his languorously liquid Oriental eyes bring a hallucinating resemblance to his impersonation. (Tom Milne)

This moving, hypnotically condensed film… knows just how huge a statement is contained in the smallest of gestures. (David Ansen, NEWSWEEK, 11/22/82)wp1a4f7daf.jpg

Percy Adlon is a refreshingly original artist who studies his subject with the eye of the documentarist, but what he sees is filtered by a mind intensely poetic. (Frederick W. Ott)

As a study of master and servant, feudally free with each other within the limits both accept; as a recreation of Proust and Céleste; as an evocation of past time; as a series of genre interiors -- this film is a delight. (Richard Mayne, TIMES, Literary Supplement, 4/2/82)

VILLAGE VOICE, September 28, 1983

Footnotes on Proust, Grace, Reed, and Connors

By Andrew Sarris

I have not read “Monsieur Proust” by Céleste Albaret, the writer’s housekeeper during the last bedridden years of his life, and the best thing I can say about the film is that it makes me want to read this book very much. It is a strange work that Percy Adlon has fashioned from this material, but it is a work also that is comfortable with it’s strangeness. The very notion of this quintessentially French subject rendered in German, and for much of the time an unusual spare laconic German, seems odd at first. Ultimately, however, the extraordinarily sensitive and subtle performances of Eva Mattes as Céleste and Jürgen Arndt as Marcel Proust sweep all before them. One is not sure at the outset weather Percy Adlon has conceived of Céleste in an ironic mode as a feminist heroine before her time. Before the end, and particularly after the death of Proust, it becomes clear that Céleste, at least in this version, was less exploited than transfigured by her slavish devotion to her somewhat bizarre employer. The pacing of the film is weighted nonetheless toward the drudgery and tedium of Céleste’s routine in the kitchen, while Marcel is scribbling away in his cork lined bedroom. The long silences are broken very infrequently for cryptic insights into the miracle and mystery of creativity. Still we are reminded forcefully that Proust, like many of his contemporaries, stood at the great divide between a self- romanticism and a self-doubting modernism. His cathedrals of prose rose atop foundations of painfully acquired facts. For her part, Céleste grasped intuitively what was needed of her in order for Proust to complete his life-consuming mission.

See CELESTE, and stay with it through its final, convulsive moments, and you will be privileged to experience one of the most profound tributes one art form has ever paid to another.

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