"Antoine et Antoinette" is Jacques Becker's fourth movie and it takes place in a working-class milieu ;"Goupi Mains Rouges" was a rural thriller and "Falbalas" took us to the chic world of models and fashion.
At first sight,"Antoine and Antoinette" could be looked upon as an update of René Clair's "le Million" .But the latter has become -at least to these eyes- unbearable with its old-fashioned "songs" and its ludicrous -with the exception of the lovely Annabella- cast. "Antoine and Antoinette",on the other hand,retains its pristine charm ,it's very well acted ,and Becker's camera is fluid ,his sympathy for his characters is glaring ,qualities which will emerge again in such works as "Rendez-vous de Juillet" and his towering achievement "Casque D'Or" .
The lottery ticket as a way out of poverty was also in Julien Duvivier's classic "La Belle Equipe" ,but it was 1947 ,the baby boom time when people were optimistic in France .Roger Pigaut was one of the best romantic young leads of the era ,but he never became a big star ,which was unfair.As for his partner,Claire Mafféi ,she was virtually forgotten after Becker's film.Noel Roquevert who made hundreds of films (he played a small part in "les Diaboliques") is cast against type as a vicious middle age man,trying to sleep with Antoinette.
In his best works,Becker recreates a microcosm : the rural world of "Goupi" (it may be unrealistic,it works all the same),the enthusiastic bunch of students in "Rendez-vous de Juillet" ,the "Apaches" and their laws in "Casque d'Or" ,the prisoners in their cell in "le Trou".Here he works wonders when it comes to depicting the life of these humble people,their seedy apartments ,their metro,the work they are proud of ,and most of all the class solidarity through the pleasure and the pain.
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