Third version of the "Mystère de la Chambre Jaune" /"Parfum de la Dame en Noir" novel (two novels which are actually one long story divided into two parts ).For the record,there was Marcel L'Herbier (1930) whose films were not bad ,and Louis Daquin (1948-1949).Plus an excellent MTV "Mystère de la Chambre Jaune" starring Claude BRasseur as Rouletabille in 1965 followed circa 1966 by a "Parfum" as a miniseries with different actors .
The Podalydès bros have a lot of qualities.They try to get the contemporary French movie out of convention,they try new tacks with talent ,they introduce emotion (the relationship Rouletabille/Mathilde is not far from an incest and there's certainly a Freudian relationship with his father Larsan :the "burial at see" filmed from a distance,while Rouletabille is alone on the boat whilst his companions are staying in the fort is revealing)and a sense of humour (One of the ladies is shouting "A table!" every ten minutes).My God!They try to outdistance Claude Chabrol in the field of gastronomy!And of course,there's the obligatory tribute to Hergé and Tintin: in the fort ,there is a portrait of a captain of long ago,who resembles Le Chevalier de Hadoque ,captain Haddock's ancestor in "le Secret de la Licorne".The iron mask is borrowed from Dumas .As for the submarine...
The problem is that the Podalydès bros made a complicated story out of a muddled novel-certainly inferior to "le Mystère .. " the plot of which was close to perfect.Even the 1930 version was sometimes difficult to catch up with....It's not easy to introduce melodrama elements into an extravagant thriller.Rouletabille was a sleuth in "Mystère" ,he 's turned into a conjurer in that follow-up.Like father,like son.
The best scene might be the flashback when Rouletabille was a child in a boarding-school.This memory lane has a sense of mystery (as if the P. bros were recalling "Les Disparus de Saint-Agil" or "Le Visiteur" )which eludes the rest of the movie.
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