A solid review of the narrative plot points has been provided already, however, what I find most interesting about Renoir's initiation into directing with Une Vie Sans Joie is the blend of two stylistic systems that Renoir employed in later films. The first system clearly has influences from Gance and the French Impressionist filmmakers, where rapid editing montage sequences and prolonged angular close-up shots create pace, rhythm and tone but also insight to character psychology and emotion. The second stylistic system is the unique system that has contributed to Renoir's fame and influence as a filmmaker the world over. The long take and mobile framing are not so present in this particular film, however, there are ample opportunities taken to frame a collective of characters using deep staging and deep focus (depth of field). It has been commented before that the co-directing credits of this film beg the question as to what contributions Renoir made from the director's chair. For myself, it would seem that given the two stylistic systems working in conjunction within this film, that Renoir's presence is likely dominant. I conjecture that Dieudonne would likely have been struggling to keep pace with Renoir's vision for the scenario. The film does indeed have a frenetic pace and there is a tangible struggle within the direction that heightens and reflects... even compliments the story itself. It is too modest to think of Renoir's early films as mere vehicles for Hessling's brand... but perhaps a co-directed piece was itself a sound launching point on all fronts.
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