"Pierre et Jean" still remains ,along "Une Vie" ,Maupassant's best work apart from his short stories.How many illegitimate sons are there in his 200+ short stories?More than you'll ever know!How many women married to a greybeard (Jean Renoir's masterpiece " Une Partie de Campagne" dealt with the subject)? A pretty woman (Renee Saint Cyr) is married to a grumpy crude petit bourgeois who spends his spare time fishing (Noel Roquevert).They have one son,Jean,a sensitive little kid whose sensitiveness the papa is incapable to feel.Enter a handsome doctor the woman falls in love with.
Years go by!How time flies! Mama is proud of his son who 's just passed his exam:he 's a doctor now;but this is another child ,Pierre.
Andre Cayatte's film is an excellent adaptation of a short novel (it's also a very short film the running time of which does not exceed 70 min).Although they have transposed the action to the 1940s (one of the boys has got a car),the film does not suffer for it (Think of Roger Vadim's farces when he butchered Zola's "La Curée " and Choderlos de Laclos' "Les Liaisons Dangereuses " transposing them to the fabulous sixties!).
Little by little ,Pierre discovers he might possibly not be the son of his father.One cannot praise too highly Gilbert Gil's performance ;he is chiefly remembered for his part of Pierrot in "Pepe Le Moko" ,but Pierre is ,IMHO,his very best role;when he appears he is a true live wire (Louise tells him so:It's you I liked best before),stealing apples in a yard and outshining his bland brother Jean.When the crack appears in the mirror (the scene when he looks at himself in the mirror is revealing),he becomes jealous,hateful ,full of contempt for his aging mother -who did not leave her not-so-handsome husband because of her children though-.
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