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One of the mavericks of the French cinema ,Gerard Blain became famous with three great works ,two of which ("Le Beau Serge" "Les Cousins" )belonged to the Nouvelle Vague whereas the third one was one of the masterpieces of the old one ("Voici Le Temps Des Assassins").
The clues to his future as a director were not Claude Chabrol or Julien Duvivier though.His most notable influence in "Un Infant Dans La Foule" is arguably Robert Bresson.The amateurish acting of the actors who deliver their lines in a neutral voice ,a sense of ellipsis ,a voice over ,all that reminds you of Bresson.
"Un Infant Dans La Foule" is arguably the great lost masterpiece of the French seventies ;it was nominated at Festival De Cannes but it was a commercial failure.Since Pialat's "L'Enfance Nue" (1968),nobody had made a so brutally honest movie .Blain,obsessed with personal pain ,made a complete artistic statement of great courage and even candor.
It tells about a teenager's rejection by the community during the days of the German occupation.Dry-eyed,it tells of a mother who can't hear his boy knocking on her door,of painful growing-up .We follow the boy as he helps the Resistant fighters just to make his mum love him.We see him wandering the streets where he is the only one to take pity on a "Femme Tondue" (closely-cropped hair women,that was the populace did to women who slept with the enemy) as the allies come near Paris.
Is the boy gay or does he have affairs with men because he can provide his family with food?It's impossible to answer in that context.We are beyond any moral and the boy's need for love is so intense he's looking for someone all along the movie.There is no hint at homosexuality,no risqué scene,all is suggested with an incredible sense of decency.
In his absorbing memoirs "J'Ai Oublié DE Vous Dire" ,Jean-Claude Brialy ,who was Blain's co-star in "Le Beau Serge" and "Les Cousins" ,wrote that he was sexually assaulted as an adolescent and that his hatred for homosexuals was strong.In this film,it does not show: neither the teacher nor the young man are "unkind" people;actually they are "neutral".
The ending is simple but this kind of simplicity is absolutely mind-boggling:
Boy: They are looking for extras for a movie ;maybe they're going to take me....
Boy:"Les Enfants Du Paradis"
On the street,the boy meets a man who asks him for a light.This man is Gérard Blain himself.
Gérard Blain was an extra for "Les Enfants Du Paradis".
A film crying to be watched.
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