"The Master" and "To the Wonder" may have flown above the radar for the directorial cred Paul Thomas Anderson and Terrence Malick carry with them, but Venice's most promising feature comes from a less renowned expert director. Olivier Assayas may be on the outside of common knowledge, but the sublime "Summer Hours" and insane thrills of "Carlos" have put him on the map, even if audiences aren't quite headed his way yet. His latest, "Something in the Air" is receiving something of a mixed reaction, not in that it is a "love it or hate it" affair, but that the most prevalent complaint has been of less than astounding characters. Praise is still going inexorably towards Assayas, and it's worth stating that this will be one to watch for, even if simply in passing.
Justin Chang (Variety): "Decidedly not revolutionary cinema, "Something in the Air" instead quietly demystifies its subject. The tone of the piece is wryly affectionate but never indulgent; the experiences depicted feel emotionally true and lived-in without ever catching the viewer up in a rush of intoxication or excitement. Eschewing the handheld restlessness of Assayas' recent films, d.p. Eric Gautier's luminous, sun-dappled compositions remain as steady as the editing by Luc Barnier and Mathilde Van de Moortel, which compounds the film's slightly muted feel with regular fade-ins and fade-outs."
David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter): "In his darkly poetic 1994 feature, Cold Water, Olivier Assayas revisited his early-70s adolescence in a town near Paris via a youth named Gilles and his troubled girlfriend Christine. The French writer-director returns to that time and place, with leads again named Gilles and Christine, in the exquisite, semi-autobiographical Something in the Air (Apres mai). While the earlier drama was notable for its absence of politics, the new film is virtually bursting with revolutionary ferment, albeit viewed with reflective detachment."
Oliver Lyttelton (The Playlist): "Content aside, the film’s something of a triumph for Assayas as director, which won’t come as a huge surprise to fans of his work. Reteaming with regular DoP Eric Gautier (“Into The Wild”), who skipped “Carlos,” virtually every frame of the film is gorgeous in a sun-dappled kinda way, a seemingly light-as-a-feather handheld camera telling the story with immense clarity, without ever becoming showy. Structurally, it’s also wonderfully loose, effortlessly shifting away from Gilles to side-characters without ever making them feel extraneous."
Guy Lodge (In Contention): "SOMETHING IN THE AIR (B/B-) Beautifully directed, of course, locating wry ennui in post-'68 ardour, but I'd like one character to hold onto."