Jean Devaivre ,who had sunk into oblivion ,gained fame again as one of the heroes of Bertrand Tavernier's "Laissez passer" which was based on his memoirs(Jacques Gamblin played his part in this 2002 film).His career as a director was short-lived and only two of his movies are worth watching :"La Dame De Onze Heures" and this film "La Ferme Des Sept Péchés" (The farm of the seven sins).Both are offbeat thrillers ,"La Ferme" is the best of the two .
At first sight,it looks like a return to rural thriller,in the tradition of "Goupi Mains Rouges" or "L'Assassinat Du Père Noel",but Devaivre's treatment is Citizen Kane -like.
Paul Louis Courier is a name in history ;he was a committed republican who fought against the royalists during the Restoration :he died in the reign of Charles X :was it a political assassination or a murky murder?The film does not really provide the audience with an answer and actually the historians themselves do not know.A high school in Tours bears his name but few people in France really know what he did to merit such a honor.
The film is a long flashback,à la "Citizen Kane" ;Paul Louis Courier is ,depending on whom the police questions ,sometimes a friend of the oppressed people who suffer under the rule of the king,sometimes a hateful stingy landlord ,who gives his servants ,his wife and the tramp who begs a plate of soup a really rough time.
A very fine directing,with an ambitious fragmented screenplay ,a misty murky atmosphere and the presence of a village idiot ( played by the talented Jacques Dufilho) ,a stunning editing and strong scenes (the country ball is a splendor ) make "La Ferme Des Sept Péchés" perhaps not a masterpiece but a very original work.
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