10 February 2012 | dbdumonteil
Fishing in troubled waters
Based on Balzac's novel " La Rabouilleuse".
The movie has got a four ,which is certainly unfair ,in spite of some obvious flaws .
To be able to understand the cynicism of some of the characters (Philippe Brideau),you 've got to realize that he is a "Demi -Solde" (half pay):this is the name they gave to the ex-soldiers and officers of Napoleon the First ;they were humiliated ,frustrated,and their dream was to have their hero come back (there were many plots ,one of them depicted in Roger Richebé 's "L'Agonie Des Aigles" (see this entry));the plot ,in "Les Arrivistes " is only skimmed over and boiled down to two scenes:a meeting and the trial.
Actually the director is more interested in the wealthy uncle and his cupid lover (the ever reliable Madeleine Robinson ,who keeps the viewers waiting )whose nicknamed is "RABOUILLEUSE":the word is no longer part of the French modern language,but Brideau explains it to us during the movie:it is a person who troubles water with a branch to catch fish and crayfish (crawfish),who "fishes in troubled waters" .Brideau's mother was disinherited and her half-brother got the whole dough.
Except for the mother and Brideau's young brother -he is an artist ("a dauber")- all the characters compete with each others to latch onto the money;one can go as far as to say that the hero is even more cynical than his enemies ,but after all,he was a "Demi Solde " and he never got over it.
The ending uses "flash forwards" but it seems botched sometimes;it ends in a street of old Paris,to the sound of a barrel organ.