13 May 2007 | dbdumonteil
A cinema which sells out....
That 's what Truffaut wrote about "Rue des Prairies" when it was released.Instant karma:as everything Truffaut and his clique used to slag off was to be dismissed by the "true" French cine buffs ,"Rue des Prairies" sank without a trace.
I must admit I'm far from being a Denys de la Patellière's fan. One can save,in his filmography,"Un Taxi Pour Tobrouk" ,an entertaining war movie saved by its actors ,and mainly "Retour de Manivelle" his successful attempt at a film noir.
But in this film,he was really inspired.Is it the excellent cast featuring an imperial Gabin ,with efficient supporting young newcomers such as Claude Brasseur ,Pierre Brasseur's son,Marie-José Nat and a moving Roger Dumas who almost steals the show from the old star?Is it the witty funny dialog by Audiard at the top of his game?Had Truffault displayed more tolerance,more understanding and more perceptiveness,He would have admitted that his Antoine Doinel was really Fernand Neveux's close relative .The only difference is that Fernand is a working-class boy whereas Truffaut's hero was a middle-class offspring (didn't his mother have diplomas?)
"Intellectuals do not like the people "Alain Paucard writes in his excellent insightful review in "Guide des Films ,tome 2".The book rates " Prairies" higher than "les 400 coups" and I can find little fault with the opinion expressed.
Gabin came back from war in 1942 to find his wife dead and a baby (not his) in his bedroom.A widower,he will raise the toddler with his son and daughter.Fifteen years later,the three children try to "make some money and not to fall into the ranks of suburbia" .But dad is not prepared to accept it.
THe first one(Pierre Brasseur) ,a cycle champion, trashes his father in the gutter press ,cause he has learned to be good at selling himself.
The second one (Marie-José Nat),who used to work in a shoe shop poses for fashion photographs .She falls for a greybeard who could be her father.
The bastard is a tormented soul.He knows where he comes from ,and although M.Neveux is a a father to him,he has grown into a rebel without a cause.
But the most important thing in "Rue des Prairies " ,as M.Paucard wrote ,is the class struggle.This subject is hinted at in the best scene of the movie,when Gabin comes to see his daughter's lover.The luxury apartment,where a mass by Bach is heard on the record player ,this posh man whose doctor put to starvation diet (tea and Biscottes)and who can give this blue collar champagne,tea,or whiskey but who has not got any "Pernod" the par excellence proletarian beverage.Such a scene talks louder than one hour and a half of Godardesque rhetoric.And if it were not enough,the last scene ,in the courtroom of honor "where the judge pounds his gavel to show that all are equal and the law's on the level" shows a bourgeoisie afraid of a populace turning anticlerical and anti-militarist (but he 's got the war cross says a more human judge).A justice which is hard on the Poor .It's revealing that Neveux's two other children side with THAT justice.