1 January 2007 | dbdumonteil
Françoise Rosay:THE mother of the era
All along the thirties,and long after,Françoise Rosay's part was par excellence that of the mother.From "Jenny " (Carné,1936) to "Le Ruisseau" (Lehmann,1938) and from "Un Carnet de Bal" (Duvivier,1937) to "Paix sur le Rhin" (Choux,1938) : in turn ambitious and unscrupulous (Lehmann's work) ,grotesque in an Alsatian folk costume (Choux's) ,mad in Duvivier's masterpiece where she portrays a mum whose son died along ago (but she believes he is still alive),but above all over possessive .
"Pension mimosas" -probably because she worked with her husband Jacques Feyder- is her most interesting part of a mother; an over possessive one,but a sweet loving one;actually she is not Pierrot's mother but his godmother.Her feelings in a word are complex: critic Georges Sadoul best describes them: there is something of Phaedra here;Louise,whose husband is a good man but not particularly handsome,was an opera star but as she tells to her godson's girl "it was short-lived ,and you have got to eat!";and that girl gets the picture when she enters the "Pension Mimosas" :"She is in love with you! "
There's something of a Greek tragedy here.The key scene is to be found when Pierrot is still a kid.We see him play with a small roulette."I'm mesmerized by this small ball" he says to his disturbed "mom".His fate seems doomed .On his Communion day -the depiction of the Communion meal is colorful and predates that of "Hotel du Nord" (Carné) by four year- his true father (an ex-con) comes and takes him away with him...his family has a history of mental illness.
Ten years have passed:the boy's dad is dead ,and it seems he is in a real jam.So Louise goes to Paris where his lives among hoodlums and bad gals and takes him back to Nice .But there's a casino near her boarding-house ,and his hussy,Nelly,comes from Paris to live with him ...Then his fate is sealed.Between these two woman,only hate can grow;with that girl,Pierrot's downfall is only a matter of time.
This is arguably Feyder's most endearing film: the final kiss ,when the wind blows away the banknotes ,is one of the most memorable of the French cinema of the thirties.
For the record: Marcel Carné was Feyder's assistant and while filming "pension mimosas ", he met Arletty ,who played a small part here ("la Mome Parasol" ).She would become his favorite actress,and ten years later,they would make together the absolute unsurpassed masterpiece of the French cinema "les Enfants du Paradis" .