Bob Letellier, a good looking rich kid who studies science, makes the acquaintance of Alain, a cynical and immoral young man. The latter introduces him to the existentialist circles of Saint... Read allBob Letellier, a good looking rich kid who studies science, makes the acquaintance of Alain, a cynical and immoral young man. The latter introduces him to the existentialist circles of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Bob is invited to a party and becomes Clo's lover, a rich heiress.Bob Letellier, a good looking rich kid who studies science, makes the acquaintance of Alain, a cynical and immoral young man. The latter introduces him to the existentialist circles of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Bob is invited to a party and becomes Clo's lover, a rich heiress.
Carné, after all, had everything that would be severely lacking from the New Wave: intelligence, refinement, humour, a great talent as a storyteller, a great ear for dialogue, dazzling technical brilliance, the capacity to make his actors do what he wanted them to do, and a good dose of good taste. By comparison, Truffaut is a provincial bore with nothing to say.
A 50's tragic remake of "Pride and Prejudice", the French answer to "Rebel Without A Cause", an updated version of "Children of Paradise", "Les Tricheurs" tells a story of disaffected Parisian youth who have lost their way in an atmosphere of existentialism, sexual liberation and disrespect for traditional and religious values. Some (young) critics perceived Carné's take on the subject as the moralizing slant of an "older person", whereas I think what happened, quite to the contrary, is that Carné being gay and knowing a thing or two about repression, felt an untold sympathy for the young iconoclasts in his story. Furthermore, this being a French film, there is no mistaking that the rebellion in question is essentially sexual, something that still had to be decoded in American films like "Rebel Without a Cause" and "The Wild One".
Carné's young people are all supremely beautiful, graceful, elegant, spontaneous and intelligent. They are Gods and Goddesses. They drive the latest Vespas and the right cars. The cut of their suits, dresses and duffle-coats was a high point of the fashions of the last century. Their haircuts are still plastered on the wall of your local hairdresser. Their body shape, which they attained and maintained without effort, is still the modern Western ideal. They listen to the best jazz musicians. They know how to move, how to be sexy and how to make love even though the pill hasn't yet been invented. They know how to negotiate different social classes and cultures. Unfortunately, they are defined by and live by the code of the gang and their own heartless rituals that exclude sentimentality and make a sin of romantic love. The only thing wrong with them is that their elders don't talk to them and vice-versa. The incidents depicted in this film got a lot of tongues wagging for a long time in France about the amorality and nihilism of youth while still making it a huge public and critical success.
This film is so stylish and gorgeous, I suspect the older viewers who watched it wished they could be like the people depicted in the film and quite a few young filmmakers or aspiring filmmakers like Truffaut developed a bad case of jaundice reflecting how they could never conceivably make a film as sexy or popular as this one, although they would be very good at eventually aiming for the nihilistic bits. On the other hand, given a certain clichéd aspect of the script (amorous misunderstanding leading to a medical emergency), one can only wonder at the horribly pious and puritanical mishmash Americans would have extracted from the same basic script if they had dared to tackle the subject.
Interestingly, the movie was filmed in the same basic locations as the American musical "Funny Face" a year earlier. Where Hollywood saw the picturesque aspects of the Rive Gauche and existentialism, Carné restituted its tragic and ironic dimension. Watch this trailer on YouTube: 19ZkKeoNjPo
- Nov 30, 2007