A classic tale about bitter relationships between a frivolous girl and a soldier is adapted for the post-World War II time.A classic tale about bitter relationships between a frivolous girl and a soldier is adapted for the post-World War II time.A classic tale about bitter relationships between a frivolous girl and a soldier is adapted for the post-World War II time.
Clouzot, still smarting from the hysterical fall out from his brilliant "Le Corbeau", realigns the Prevost novel to post war France right after the liberation from Nazi occupancy. With his muse set alight, Clouzot set about putting on film the dark venality of the human condition, to show that post war France was hardly a joyous new world. Right here with "Manon" he lets rip, thrusting to the forefront black market racketeers and prostitution, people who inhabit a morally corrupt city in serious decay.
The central narrative concerns Robert Dégrieux (Auclair a splendid dope) and Manon Lescaut (Aubry cunningly adorable), where the former quickly falls in love with the latter and finds himself spun into a vortex of mistrust and misjudgements, becoming more compulsive and foolish by the day. The pursuit of a dream life by both Robert and Manon, runs concurrently with that of the Jewish people attempting to reach Israel, it is here where Clouzot is building towards a quite outstanding last quarter of film.
As the pic pulses away with film noir character beats, these are matched by the visual astuteness of the director and his cinematographer, who use high contrasts and canted angles for narrative embracement. A number of striking sequences grab the attention, be it the portentous meeting of Robert and Manon in the war torn ruins of a church (hello Christ imagery), or a mass trek through the desert beneath ominously low night time clouds, the makers ensure the mood is constantly foreboding.
Superbly performed by the cast, "Manon" is further evidence of what a true great of cinema Clouzot was. 9/10
- Sep 28, 2019