Charles is a young provincial coming up to Paris to study law. He shares his cousin Paul's flat. Paul is a kind of decadent boy, a disillusioned pleasure-seeker, always dragging along with ... See full summary »
Charles is a young provincial coming up to Paris to study law. He shares his cousin Paul's flat. Paul is a kind of decadent boy, a disillusioned pleasure-seeker, always dragging along with other idles, while Charles is a plodding, naive and honest man. He fell in love with Florence, one of Paul's acquaintances. But how will Paul react to that attempt to build a real love relationship ? One of the major New Wave films. Written by
This is more akin to the recognizable style of the "Nouvelle Vague" (with one of the characteristics being an unduly harsh quality to the cinematography, typically a prerogative of the film noir genre) than Chabrol's previous (and first) film, HANDSOME SERGE (1958).
Interestingly, while it features the same two leads Gerard Blain and Jean-Claude Brialy their roles are practically reversed (with the former now ingenuous and the latter world-weary), and set this time around in Paris rather than the provinces. Incidentally, the film forms a trilogy of sorts with Chabrol's other tales of amoral youth, all stemming from the vitriolic pen of the ill-fated Paul Gegauff i.e. LES BONNES FEMMES (1960) and WISE GUYS (1961).
Unfortunately, I did not watch this in the most congenial atmosphere being a recording off French TV with subtitles in that language (it is odd that such an essential piece in both the director's canon and the influential "New Wave" filmography seems to be otherwise unavailable!). Anyway, having sensed a nod to Fellini in Chabrol's THE CHAMPAGNE MURDERS (1967), I can see definite links with this earlier effort (especially Brialy interrupting a wild party at his flat with a candle-lit recital of an epic German poem) and which actually predates a similar occurrence in LA DOLCE VITA (1960) itself!
The film is also notable for being Stephane Audran's first collaboration (out of a total of 23!) with Chabrol; though her role is secondary, and a sluttish one at that, the actress with hair dyed blonde manages to make an impression nevertheless (she obviously did on her director, since they would eventually be married until 1980). Actually, the leading lady here is doe-eyed Juliette Mayniel (soon to play an unwilling donor in Georges Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE  ironically, one of several distinguished native directors dismissed as archaic by Godard et al), not an actress usually attached to the "New Wave" movement but who acquits herself exceedingly well under the circumstances.
Other characters within the narrative include yet another ambiguous and, in this case, much older live-in figure (who also acts as a bad influence on the heroine) and a librarian harboring almost paternal feelings for Blain. The film's abrupt tragic ending, casually treated by the director and deemed pointless by some, would seem to be suggesting that the bustle of city life spells the death of innocence (especially for someone not attuned to its grinding pace).
P.S. With this, I concluded my nearly two-month tribute to the octogenarian French master that included 27 films (all of them being first viewings!) and I regret not having had more time to revisit some of his other work particularly A' DOUBLE TOUR (1959), LES BONNES FEMMES, TEN DAYS WONDER (1971) and INNOCENTS WITH DIRTY HANDS (1975)! For the record, I intend to pursue a similar retrospective for Jean-Luc Godard, who will himself turn 80 next December
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