Almost all actor Jean-Claude Brialy 's films revolve around childhood:"Eglantine" ,his charming debut featured an old grandma (Valentine Tessier) who used to gather her grandsons and granddaughters in her mansion.The fact that he adapted the comtesse de Segur's works afterwards made sense :the world of this old-fashioned but still very pleasant writer is that of the children."Les malheurs de Sophie" is the first part of a trilogy which encompasses "les petites filles modèles" and" les vacances" ,which is probably the best of the three books.
The very structure of "les malheurs de Sophie" makes it a book very hard to bring to the screen.Jacqueline Audry did it before Brialy before in the fifties ,but her movie is nowhere to be seen or found nowadays :judged by its screenplay alone,it seems that Audry had managed better than Brialy.The latter did not try to change the book and there's the rub:it is made of short scenes ,all built on the same pattern :temptation/fault/punishment.Sophie is a little girl,naiver than nasty;sometimes abetted by cousin Paul,she always gets into mischief,although the boy is much wiser than she is.
So Brialy's work is repetitive and sometimes dull which the book was not.It becomes monotonous and lacks tempo,gusto and the darker side of the writer (her book is some kind of autobiography)The ending is different from the book too as Sophie ,Paul and their parents leave France for America where an inheritance is waiting for them.
Sophie's story continues -in a very dramatic way as she loses her mother in a wreckage then her father -in "les petites filles modèles" where she is mistreated by a shrew,Madame Fichini,before being received in a generous lady 's home ,and in "les vacances" where she meets again Paul,survivor of the sinking of the ship too.
Brialy would adapt another Segur book in the eighties with "un bon petit diable'
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