A shimmering glass hotel at the top of a remote Provençal mountain provides the setting for a tragicomic tapestry about an obsessive love pentangle, whose principals range from an artist to...
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A shimmering glass hotel at the top of a remote Provençal mountain provides the setting for a tragicomic tapestry about an obsessive love pentangle, whose principals range from an artist to a hotel manager to a dam worker. Scripted by Jacques Prévert and Pierre Laroche, the film was banned from theaters for the duration of the occupation for its dark portrayal of the hedonistic excesses of the ruling class. Today, it is often singled out as Jean Grémillon's greatest achievement. Written by
A real strange one this, pretty flabbergasting even. A load of Frenchies high up in a mountaintop hotel, the neighbouring castle and dam project behave like lunatics. Superb light relief from Marcel Lévesque as Monsieur Louis, the hotel dogsbody who finds everything that happens just as quizzical as I did. An immensely contrived plot seems to have been contrived absolutely apropos of nothing, a bit like Ayn Rand without an agenda. Often compared to Renoir's Rules of the Game, somewhat to my mystification, as it's severely lacking in existential resonance by comparison and nowhere near as seamless. There's a huge deficit in chemistry in all the many romantic connections. The sheer weirdness of it is however utterly compelling. Many symbolic moments occur, but are hard to nail to their objects. Two of the men at one point discuss going fishing, the first points out that equipment is not necessary as the trout sleep under rocks in the stream at one place and can be caught by hand. Allegorical of the rather quick and humiliating capitulation of France (the film was shot during the reign of the Vichy government)? Anyone's guess. A whole bagful of mad.
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