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Pierre Lentier murders an 8-year-old in horrendous circumstances. This 30-something solitary factory worker who lives on the edge of society is sentenced to death. A damning indictment of ... See full summary »
Ambitious ,not always palatable for the mainstream audience (hence the commercial failure),"En Haut Des Marches" is a demanding work and one of Danielle Darrieux's most interesting parts (and she starred in many important movies)
Suzanne's husband was a collaborator during WW2 and he was turned in by his own family at the Liberation ,a family who took advantage of him during the dark days of the occupation.
In 1963,the lady comes back to Toulon after years of exile ;then begins a long walk in space and time ,in which she remembers (no flashbacks,but De Gaulle's and Pétain's speeches ,a class where she used to be a schoolteacher and where she had to teach the "moral doctrine " of the Marechal..).
Imaginary events run into each others and into reality: she kills her family to avenge her husband and there is a questioning by a detective and a trial during which she is defended by her goddaughter (and former pupil).These scenes are the most convincing in the whole movie,and all their conversations always come up against the same question:"what could I do?I did not know about the concentration camps ,the final solution...."And although she does not utter these worlds we feel that Suzanne is about to shout :"you can't understand ,even with your history books,you were not in my shoes at THAT time ,and it's easy to live a politically correct lawyer's life!"
Influenced by early Alain Resnais,Paul Vecchiali opts for a fragmented narration which might repel some viewers ;but those who will accompany Darrieux in her strange trip will be rewarded.
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