In a small Breton town, a 10-year-old girl is found murdered. René, her art teacher, a professional painter, is the last person to have seen her alive. The inspector in charge of the ... See full summary »
Antoine de Caunes
In early twentieth-century Brittany, two peasants marry, have a son, and live in traditional Breton ways: three generations under one roof, a division of labor between the sexes, elders' ... See full summary »
Bernadette Le Saché,
WWII. In German occupied Paris, Helene is torn between the love for her boyfriend Jean, working for the resistance and the German administrator Bergmann, who will do anything to gain her ... See full summary »
Six vignettes set in different sections of Paris, by six directors. St. Germain des Pres (Douchet), Gare du Nord (Rouch), Rue St. Denis (Pollet), and Montparnasse et Levallois (Godard) are ... See full summary »
Paul, an irritable and stressed-out hotel manager, begins to gradually develop paranoid delusions about his wife's infidelity. As he succumbs to green-eyed jealousy, his life starts to ... See full summary »
During World War II, in occupied France, a woman of limited schooling raises two children in a ratty flat. She is Marie Latour. In 1941, her husband Paul returns from the front, too weak to... See full summary »
Seven directors each dramatize one of the seven deadly sins in a short film. In "Anger," a domestic argument over a fly in the Sunday soup escalates into nuclear war. In "Sloth," a movie ... See full summary »
The movies Claude Chabrol made in the first ten years of his career are vastly underrated nowadays with the film under review being, arguably, the most obscure of the lot; admittedly, LES GODELUREAUX an unwieldy single-word title if ever there was one (literally meaning "the popinjays") could not have endeared it much to audiences. Consequently, it seems rather hard now to believe that Chabrol's more renowned colleague at the "Cahiers Du Cinema", Jean-Luc Godard, once named it among "The Top Six French Films made since the Liberation"(!) alongside Robert Bresson's PICKPOCKET, Jean Cocteau's LE TESTAMENT D'ORPHEE' and Jean Renoir's LE TESTAMENT DU DOCTEUR CORDELIER (all 1959)!!
Thematically, the film is basically Bresson/Cocteau's masterful LES DAMES DU BOIS DE BOULOGNE (1945) reworked for the "New Wave" set though the revenge this time around is triggered by a petty incident between strangers, making the whole scheme an even more cynical one. Apart from the director himself, the film also finds some choice performers at somewhere near their best, notably the two leads: Jean-Claude Brialy (genuinely Mephistophelean, he displays a remarkable flair for melodrama throughout) and an entrancing Bernadette Lafont (peerlessly epitomizing earthy sensuality) though some, like the reviewer of the "Films De France" website, actually felt their characters to be caricatures! Equally imperative to the success of the film is Jean Rabier's glossy black-and-white camera-work, a typically fine score by Pierre Jansen and also a clever use of overlapping sound (actually one of the revolutionary cinematic techniques characteristic of the French "Nouvelle Vague" movement).
The plot oozing with the hedonistic/nihilistic outlook of Chabrol's regular scribe Paul Gegauff sees the seemingly bisexual bourgeois fop Brialy sending out coquettish seductress Lafont to attract the attention of a young man (well-played by virtual unknown and future director Charles Belmont) who had spited him at the very start of the film. Subsequently, the newly-minted trio becomes virtually inseparable ensuring an invasion of the latter's domestic life (which embarrasses him no end, since he is still in the custody of a strict and wealthy uncle) as much as they force him into their own private chaos (which involves not only an omnipresent homosexual valet by Brialy's side but a nerdy soon-to-be-wed cousin whom Lafont has no qualms about seducing in front of her current boyfriend, Belmont)!
Although at one point a ménage-a'-trois between the three leads is implied, some of their shenanigans are fairly harmless such as disrupting an art exhibition with the dissemination of sneezing powder, or an upper-class soiree' by incorporating into the program both a sultry dance (performed by none other than a dark-haired Stephane Audran!) and an eccentric ditty sung by a pathetic ex-vaudevillian lady. However, the bacchanal in the style of Ancient Rome, togas and all held at Belmont's house, having charged Lafont with its upkeep while he is away on business (in the same vein, Luis Bunuel's contemporaneous VIRIDIANA , would feature a famously blasphemous parody of Da Vinci's "The Last Supper") has more severe repercussions; this sequence is cleverly, and amusingly, cross-cut by Chabrol with the most formal of restaurant dinners being consumed by the oblivious Belmont and his uncle!
Eventually, the schemer feels vindicated and confesses to having taken the young man 'for a ride' and that Lafont (whom the boy had genuinely fallen for and was even planning to marry) had been his tormentor's mistress all along. However, in keeping with the film's darkly humorous tone (boasting a couple of bona-fide howlers along the way), the coda shows that, though obviously broken-hearted at first, Belmont has picked himself up by the time we next see him a year later and is consoling himself with a plain-looking girl; in fact, running by chance into Lafont on a pier, it is rather the latter who is unable to mature being seemingly involved in yet another romantic scam (with a high-ranking Naval officer, no less)
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