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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
Although it's Chabrol's second effort (the first one being "le beau serge" featuring the same actors),this one is closer to Chabrol-as -we -know-him.The detective ending and the first steps in the bourgeois world of Brialy character herald Chabrol 's heyday (which begins with "les biches" ,encompasses such works as "la femme infidèle","que la bête meure" "le boucher" "la rupture" "juste avant la nuit " and ends with" les noces rouges";that's not to say all the movies were great during that period :"doctor Popaul" and "la decade prodigieuse" can be forgotten";that does not mean there were no great works after "wedding in blood" (les noces)either as testify such memorable works as "Violette NOzières","Une affaire de femmes" or "l'enfer".But in France the 1967-1973 era is generally regarded as Chabrol's peak ,with "le boucher" ,his towering achievement. So we enter the bourgeois world with Brialy's character,a bon vivant as we say in France,with parents (whom we never see)who provide him money and a comfortable flat .He is a student,but we never see him studying,girls and pleasures taking the best of him. In direct contrast with him,enters Blain,his provincial cousin.He comes from a much more modest background,his parents (whom we never see either)had certainly to struggle hard to send him to the Latin Quarter. So from the beginning ,the incommunicability is total.Blain is a grind,and if sometimes he accepts to follow his life-lover cousin in not-so-intellectual places in Paris,he knows he shall not disappoint his old parents.Brialy's kind of life is bewildering for a young lad like Blain:a scene is particularly strange,baroque,and even threatening: some fascination for Nazism from Brialy and his clique during a strange party(it's 1959,and German occupation is not that much far behind after all). Chabrol has ready begun his bourgeoisie wholesale massacre:Brialy is the prototype of the bourgeois student,selfish and smug,self-confident and apolitical (And however,1959,it's Algerian war!Young French are sent to do the dirty job).Apolitical,such is also Blain's case,but with more excuses :after all,when you're poor .. In his autobiography "le ruisseau des singes" ,Brialy told that Chabrol(and the producer) had planned an happy end with the two cousins running across the fields,reconciled.Both endings were filmed,and finally the two actors urged Chabrol to renounce this silly conclusion. Hence an almost Hitchcockian ending,Hitchcock whose influence will grow over the years in Chabrol's work.
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