Francois comes back to his home village in France after more than a decade. He notices that the village hasn't changed much, but the people have, especially his old friend Serge who has ...
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Francois comes back to his home village in France after more than a decade. He notices that the village hasn't changed much, but the people have, especially his old friend Serge who has become a drunkard. Francois now tries to find out what happened to him and tries to help him. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
This was the first feature film to be directed by Claude Chabrol, who made it in the village which was his birthplace, using local people in small parts. Part of the financing for the film came from an inheritance of his first wife's; later, after a divorce, Chabrol would sometimes jokingly claim that he had married her primarily to use her money for the film. See more »
Questionably considered the first entry in the Nouvelle Vague, or French New Wave, movement, Claude Chabrol's debut feature serves more as a precursor to the highly influential approach to film- making. While Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard broke new ground and had surprising international success with The 400 Blows (1959) and A Bout de Soufflé (1960) respectively, Le Beau Serge still retains a classical feel. Still, Chabrol's self-financing, on- location shooting, unorthodox editing and the use of non- professional actors proved to be highly influential to the Cahiers du Cinema crew and the first of its kind.
After more than a decade away from his home town, city boy Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) returns to Sardent for the winter to rest and recover from a recent bout of life-threatening illness. Upon arrival, he notices that the place has barely changed but is oddly deserted, with only a handful of his old friends and acquaintances remaining. One who has remained is Serge (Gerard Blain), Francois' former best friend. The man once dubbed 'handsome Serge' has now been reduced to a bitter alcoholic, trapped in an unhappy marriage with Yvonne (Michele Meritz) who he blames for the loss of his child. Finding himself now at odds with small-town life, Francois still feels compelled to help his old friend.
Despite the odd flash of New Wave characteristics, Le Beau Serge shares more in common with the Neo-Realist movement in post-World War II Italy and the 'angry young man' films that would pepper Hollywood throughout the 50's. Chabrol, who grew up in Sardent, captures the crumbling town with both nostalgia and sadness. While obviously fond and whimsical of such a life, Francois' character feels oddly isolated in the town he once called home, unable to understand how accepting its inhabitants are of their inconsequential existence. The narrative drags in places, but this is both a funny and powerful film, especially if you hail from similar small-town beginnings. Chabrol would build his career on thrillers, but his debut shares a sensitive and socially insightful side rarely seen from the director.
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