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Jean Anouilh is certainly one of the most important French playwright of the last(!)century."Antigone" will remain a timeless classic. He was interested in cinema ,and outside "le voyageur sans bagages" and this one,he wrote a lot of scenarios such as "pattes blanches" (Gremillon)and dialogues ("la mort de Belle",Molinaro).
The Anouilh atmosphere is here but it takes some time before we recognize his touch.Whenever Anouilh's stories take place (the Greek mythology in "Antigone" ,the Middle Ages ("l'alouette" Joan of Arc revisited)or his era ,they always deal with innocence versus an evil world.The Anouilh hero (more often an heroine),like Antigone, refuses "le pauvre bonheur humain"(the poor human happiness),if he(she) 's got to compromise with the mediocrity that surrounds him/her.
"Deux sous de violettes" boasts a fabulous cast:many of the stage actors and actresses are here on the screen and makes a true delight for the viewer:supporting the charming Dany Robin,the great Michel Bouquet -who was to become Chabrol's favorite thespian see "la femme infidèle"-,Helena Manson(Clouzot's"le corbeau"),Henri Crémieux,George Chamarat,Gabrielle Fontan,and more.The movie has two parts:the first one,in Paris ,is the least interesting,and although the heroine swears like a trooper,it reveals a tendency to dwell on the sordid side of life not to say melodrama.
Things improve dramatically when the heroine leaves Paris for the Provinces.A petty petits bourgeois couple -a stunning Jane Marken-,these gathering of old dowagers who think they're part of the chic elite as they sip their tea,these old biddies dreaming of their offspring's "beau mariage" (money match),these Christians for show exchanging futilities while they are leaving church after the sacro-sanct service.Anouilh dialogue turns cruel and really sets your teeth on edge.Therese,the young heroine to the young man who got her pregnant:"How ugly you are when you're afraid";later,to an old fogey who tries to paw her:"I'm happy my father was killed during the war,or else,he could have turned into a dirty old man like you!"
But after all these trials ,a woman is born,who won't get fooled again.
Perhaps some sunlight does break through on this ending.
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