Francois comes back to his home village in France after more than a decade. He notices that the village hasn't changed much, but the people have, especially his old friend Serge who has become a drunkard. Francois now tries to find out what happened to him and tries to help him.Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
Claude Chabrol had originally intended to shoot The Cousins (1959) first, but due to its Paris setting, it would have been twice as expensive to film. He chose instead to shoot Le Beau Serge (1958) which took place in Sardent, a village where his mother lived before moving to Paris and where he often spent the summer with his grandmother. The film was shot over nine weeks in the winter of 1957-1958 on a budget of 32 million old francs. See more »
Don't just stand there, you look like a priest.
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The film that officially kick-started the "Nouvelle Vague" (interestingly, Chabrol was the only one in that talented crowd to have debuted with a full-length feature and self-financed to boot!) is, surprisingly, an "Angry Young Man"-type drama in a pastoral setting. The radical technique associated with this school of film-making is not really in evidence in this case, but nor is it needed – given that what we have here is essentially a character-driven piece.
In this respect, apart from the director himself (who also wrote the film on his own), the film brought in an array of fresh talent in front of the cameras as well – namely Gerard Blain (evoking Montgomery Clift in particular), Jean-Claude Brialy (restrained in comparison to his other work for Chabrol that I have watched) and the waif-like Bernadette Lafont (already effortlessly exuding carnality in her second film – and the first of 7 with this director – she was also married to her co-star Blain at the time).
Chabrol's realistic depiction of provincial France here, authentic both in the everyday detail of the locale and its characters' foibles (Blain is a hopeless drunk, Lafont is raped by her 'father', etc.), actually makes the much-later THE HORSE OF PRIDE (1980) not the odd-film-out it had at first appeared! One other atypical element is that of spirituality – especially when, towards the end, Brialy determines (albeit predictably) to reform Blain almost at the cost of his own life during one particularly blizzard-ridden night in which his friend is supposed to become a father!
By the way, Chabrol gives himself a cameo in the film: with him appears assistant director Philippe de Broca (whose character is named Jacques Rivette, after another "New Wave" exponent, obviously!); unfortunately, the subtitles – in a small white font – were especially hard to read during this scene.
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