Genevieve Bujold), a student radical who stole her father's passport for our hero's use and pretended that he was her father when Spanish security called her. On more than one level, our hero, if we can call him that, is in a crisis of commitment. But is it just a midlife crisis in the conventional bourgeois sense of the word or is his disillusionment with the underground life driving him to question all his personal commitments? The latter, I think, since he proves just as unable to commit to Nadine's more radical cause. She and her student friends want him to smuggle explosives into Spain so their contacts can perpetrate terrorist bombings in order to damage the Spanish tourist industry. To him, this sounds as futile as his own comrades' general-strike idea. While revolutionaries young and old are capable of manipulating Leninist dialectic to justify anything they want to do and condemn naysayers, our hero insists on being realistic. He's no longer willing to do something or anything just to gratify a revolutionary whim. Maybe that's because he's seen too many friends pay the price without progress to show for it over nearly thirty years. But his own failure to commit isn't total; he isn't about to quit either, no matter what the risk to himself. And I don't have to spoil anything by revealing the ending, because the ending itself leaves us in suspense, as if suspense were our hero's natural state.
Gevevieve Bujold as the hero's sex fantasy (above) and his underground contact (below)
There's something noirish in the recurring narration as Resnais and screenwriter Jorge Semprun invite us to empathize with Montand's crises and temptations. But the film's style is modernist rather than expressionist, frenetically edited with the camera almost constantly on the move, the narrative moving sometimes at the speed of Montand's consciousness. This is a movie to which frozen screencaps can't really do justice, though every frame is handsomely shot. We see things through Montand's eyes, sometimes reflecting, sometimes anticipating, sometimes fantasizing. In a sense, La Guerre est Finie is a psychological thriller about a man in peril approaching a moral rather than a psychological breaking point. I can imagine that the film and its director were denounced just as the Montand character is denounced by oldschool Leninists and New Left radicals within the film itself. But I don't know if it really can be called an anti-revolutionary film. It's not as if Resnais and Semprun are calling for anyone to give up and accept Spain as it was. And it's not as if they're questioning revolutionary commitment itself. But the filmmakers are too committed to the literary imperatives of their art to ignore the human cost of revolution or resistance. A more dogmatic revolutionary consciousness might demand unconditional affirmation and assurance of ultimate victory. But by refusing to turn revolution into a fantasy, Resnais may only have made his troubled revolutionary more of a hero.