Alain Resnais's multi-award-winning Hiroshima, Mon Amour is neither an easy film to watch nor to synopsize, but it remains one of the high-water marks of the French new wave movement.
Resnais and scenarist Marguerite Duras weave a complex story concerning a French actress's (Emmanuelle Riva) experiences in occupied France, juxtaposed with the horrendous ordeal of a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) coping psychologically with the bombing of Hiroshima.
These stories are offered in quick flashback vignettes, which permeate the contemporary story of the woman's relationship with the architect in contemporary Hiroshima.
The characters are of the Then and the Now simultaneously, much like the famous watch that was dug out of the ruins of Hiroshima, its hands permanently affixed at 9:15. Resnais refuses to honor the traditional unities of film: we are never certain at any time whether we're watching the events of 1959 or of 1945. In truth, Hiroshima Mon Amour is not quite as inscrutable as certain critics would have us believe (the central theme of the importance of coming to grips with one's past comes through loud and clear), but it confused many filmgoers upon its first release, some of whom gave up the picture as a bad job and steered clear of all future Resnais efforts.
Viewers are strongly encouraged to stay with this one from beginning to end; it won't be a smooth ride, but it will be an immensely rewarding one.