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Another missing link between the patriarchs and the overrated new wave.But this one is unique:nothing had been done before ,and a lot of directors tried to imitate it later ,to no avail.
This movie cannot be taken out of context :it has to be considered at once. in its era and in Becker's work.
1949,just after the war,it's the rise of a new youth ,who is still enthusiast and who has almost nothing to do with the blasé characters of the 1960 generation (Claude Chabrol's "les cousins" ,particularly Jean-Claude Brialy's part).Daniel Gélin and Brigitte Auber epitomize this soif de vivre ,and their optimism -almost absent in the nouvelle vague works- is quite infectious :the audience sides with them from the first line.It's really a brand new world they want to build and it's not a matter of chance if Gelin gives up the father's company and looks for broader horizons:ethnography in Africa.Old Europa is a thing of the past.
Becker had made four movies,but now the first is forgotten and impossible to find.So "Goupi Mains Rouges" -one of his very best and which too many people overlook-,"falbalas" and "Antoine et Antoinette". The latter movie and its follow-up (this movie) have strong analogies:both describe the fulfillment of a dream,even if the first one takes place in a working-class milieu whereas "Rendez-vous" depicts a bourgeois -not meant pejoratively- youth.In "Antoine et Antoinette" ,the hero wins at the French national lottery,then lost his wallet in which...(it showed a René Clair influence ("le million" 1931),but it has stood the time much better than Clair's thirties works)
Filmed on location in the streets of Paris,it paved a reliable royal way for the nouvelle vague,but its charms are more pristine and more delightful than these of Godard and co.No smugness,no self-consciousness,and a strong screenplay -which will often lack in the works of the nouvelle vague young Turks-,and no contempt for the directors who came before (as the René Clair and Jean Grémillon ("le ciel est à vous" 1943)influences testify).The female star Brigitte Auber had another strong part in the marvelous but much less optimistic Duvivier's "sous le ciel de Paris" ,then worked with Hitchcock (in a minor film though:"to catch a thief" and then got lost in mediocrities.Another Brigitte had taken her place .
Optimism will continue in the follow-up "Edouard et Caroline" (1951) and "rue de l'estrapade" (1953)(both movies featuring Gélin too)but will finally come to an end with "touchez pas au grisbi"(1954) :maybe for the characters who are older (Gabin) it's too late.Becker's final masterwork "le trou" will be pessimism flesh on the bone, a terrifying death metaphor.
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