- 1h 38m
The story of a married man, Paul Gueret, who finds himself drawn to a young laundry worker, Angele. However, when he finds out she is also his employer's mistress, in a furious rage he might... Read allThe story of a married man, Paul Gueret, who finds himself drawn to a young laundry worker, Angele. However, when he finds out she is also his employer's mistress, in a furious rage he might do things he'll regret in the future.The story of a married man, Paul Gueret, who finds himself drawn to a young laundry worker, Angele. However, when he finds out she is also his employer's mistress, in a furious rage he might do things he'll regret in the future.
Based on a Julien Green novel,who wrote the dialog ,Keigel's first effort is thus faithfull ,perhaps too faithful in its last thirty minutes in which both Jourdan and Palmer act as though they were on stage .I should add that the book is not a barrel of laughs ,depicting disenchanted pathetic character ;they are not immoral,they are beyond moral ,and their motives revolve around sex: bon vivant sex lover such as Mr Grosgeorge, exacerbated desire (Guéret,who does not want his prey to be a street-walker),Bovarisme (Mrs Grosgeorges ,who feels time is passing her by and is still dreaming of a -pathologic -romantic affair,sexual exploitation (Mrs Londe whose protégées call her "Aunt Augusta" and who in her restaurant is nothing but a respectable madam ), ambiguous young heroine (Angèle knows she attracts men,but she is miserable and under her "aunt's thumb, finding no solace in the church -the scene is more developed in the novel- wants to have her cake and eat it ;although Guéret frightens her,she feels for him more than a physical attraction ,in spite of all the men who have already slept with her)
The cinematography is splendid ,mainly in the first part: these desolate landscapes ,under an ominous sky , create something threatening : filming on location is brilliant : the sad little town ("where did you wind up her?" asks Grosgeorges to Guéret "you who used to live in Paris!),the laundry where Guéret spies on Angèle ,the foot-bridge,the coal depot.In the desirable and maleficent mansion ,there's these stairs Mrs Grosgeorges comes up and down ;in her restaurant ,Mrs Londe uses hers to get to her "nieces" and talk them about the favors she expects from them.
Till the central tragedy ,the movie is close to perfect ;enhanced by Arnold Schoenberg 's impressive and disturbing music, Keigel's directing is masterful : the violent scene near the Sommeillante (=sleeping river;the name is not mentioned in the movie)is French film noir at its best and compares favorably with Duvivier' s "Voici Le Temps Des Assassins " .
The film peaks with the double crime and Guéret's desperate escape ; as I have mentioned above ,the rest is too faithful to the book ;if you have read it,you can predict everything Mrs Grosgeorges will do ; this part needed madness ,and ,in spite of both principals' talent ,it is rather static and the final scene does not make much sense.
A note about the cast : it's a dream ,although the characters have undergone some changes ,particularly Guéret , Mrs Grosgeorges and Angèle :
To write that Louis Jourdan is cast against type is to state the obvious ;one of the most handome actors in the French cinema ,par excellence the French lover in Hollywood movies , he and Julien Green's pitiful hero (who is more frightening than handsome)are worlds apart ; in a laudable attempt to change his image ,Jourdan , unshaven ,bags under his eyes ,dressed any old how, succeeds in this difficult task .
in the book ,Mrs Grosgeorge is an aging unprepossessing woman whose beauty is forever gone ;such is not Lili Palmer's case, she is still strongly attractive ;the actress makes up for it with a restrained hate (and overt sadism when she violently slaps her son),an icy attitude ,devoid of compassion and pity ;if Palmer is not physically Mrs Grosgeorge,she gives a performance which scares the living daylights out of us!
Marie Laforêt ,who was the star of "Plein Soleil" aka "purple noon" ,is less seasoned as her co-stars ;she is more convincing than in Clément's thriller ,and anyway her beauty (her famous golden eyes ) is the only light in this lugubrious country ; in the second part of the book,her character,Angèle ,was disfigured ; the screenwriters sweetened the story : only a big scar on the side of the face
Madeleine Robinson and Georges Wilson are exactly the characters as depicted in the book ,faultless performances .
One may wonder why Keigel started his way at the top (even though it flopped at the box office, artistically ,it was an achievement),followed "Leviathan " quite well with "La Dame De Pique ", then released garbage such as the appalling "Qui?"
Had he continued in the vein of his sophomore effort ,we would have had some French Roman Polanski.Or something like that.
- May 29, 2018