11 November 2001 | dbdumonteil
An overlooked Gremillon work.
Nowadays,when critics speak of Gremillon,they often mention "remorques","lumière d'été" "le ciel est à vous" (which ran into difficulties at the end of the war as "le corbeau" ,but on opposite grounds:Clouzot's work was deemed too black when Gremillon's was judged too "white" ,too "pétainiste".)"gueule d'amour" is rarely talked about.
So "gueule d'amour' is unfairly dismissed as "melodrama".Sure it is,but ,as Stahl,Sirk,Minelli and countless others have shown in America,melodrama is a valuable genre.Gabin, a good-looking legionnaire,is under a bitch's spell.This woman (Balin) dreams of luxury,abetted by an unscrupulous hateful mother.So she stalks rich preys,and Gabin,even if she loves him ,is nothing more than a pastime for her.The best scenes deal with Balin in one of her rich lover's flat ,with her despicable mama who acts as if she's at home,and Gabin's helpless attempts to make her comprehend what true love means.But it's too late,she's rotten to the core.The last part is less convincing:the M.O. of Gabin's former regiment tells his mate he's found love with a wonderful woman.Guess who she is?That's the biggest flaw of the movie and the ending is too predictable.
By and large,"Gueule d'amour" is an absorbing movie which influenced Yves Allégret .The mother character is close to Jane Marken's in
"manèges" (1949).Spiteful gossips will tell it's the same misogyny.