24 June 2014 | dbdumonteil
In spite of Yves Montand,the movie was not a big success for Pierre Granier-Deferre ,a director whose works found a huge audience in the seventies,although the critics,still Under the Nouvelle Vaguelette's thumb,were more reserved .Today,they seem to have stood the time quite well:ground-breaking ,they were absolutely not.They were good stories,well told,well acted ,reviving the grand tradition of the "Cinema De Qualité " ,a label which was never pejorative to my eyes.
Take "Le Fils" (=the son) :although its hero is a NY gang leader -a Corsican who emigrated -,it is not an action-packed movie : on the contrary ,it is a pastoral ,ecological (Mr Montand would reportedly have qualified the movie so)and quiet atmosphere,with a vague menace hanging over the hero's head ,like a sword of Damoclès .We can feel something threatening in those luminous splendid landscapes (the movie was entirely filmed on location in Corsica;the director thanks the local inhabitants for their cooperation) but the screenplay focuses on life in a place where time seems to have stood still : the old dying mama ,who has probably never left her village ,the teacher still using inkwells whereas on the mainland the pen -holder was fast becoming a thing of the past,the brother guarding his sheep ...
The movie moves very slowly and it may have discouraged some viewers ,who,after the first pictures in a desert New York city ,may have expected a genuine thriller ;it is actually vignettes of Corsica circa 1970,before tourism en masse:the most moving moment is when Montand and his teacher recite La Fontaine's "Les Animaux Malades De La Peste":the old man does not remember the words ,but his former pupil does ,a way for him to remember a time when he was young and innocent .Although he stays in touch with his accomplices (phone calls to American),we feel his regret not to have lived a simple safe life like his sibling (Frederic De Pasquale) who married his teenage squeeze (Léa Massari) he actually always loves.
Like this? Try these ......
La Loi Du Survivant (José Giovanni ,1967)
Le Paria (Carliez,1968)