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Anecdotal story, stock Gabin with some heavy Audiard lines
As with La Horse, shot around the same time, you have to wonder if they had enough of a story when they end up with a mere 75-minute runtime. And the opening credits are slow, and boring! Jean Gabin plays the tired stubborn patriarch part he indulged in for most of the last 20 years of his career. It may be OK when there is something of a story, or when emotions, or laughs, are carried by the rest of the cast too. Here Gabin is in freewheeling mode more than ever. He is in turn tired, angry, passive-aggressive, sarcastic and even sometimes hypocritically gentle. The succession of moods gives us a mostly uninteresting character that the script would want us to accept as a maverick, a passionate fatalistic lone-ranger in a world of cynical and material hypocrites.
Sure Gabin has to cope with very little help from the script and director. Audiard's dialogue cannot make up for the lack of overall production quality. A lighter atmosphere might have resounded greatly with a couple of rants and one-liners, but here they ring wrong because they are the words of a bitter man you never come to root for.
There is a complete battalion of fine actors around Gabin though. They really lift up the whole thing around the old man's tired part; so much that in the end you really wonder how much real work it took the production guys to land so little drama.
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