25 June 2020 | ulicknormanowen
Happiness has gone out of my heart.
"La goualeuse " bears more than a distant resemblance to Raymond Bernard's "le coupable"(1936);both were remakes of silent movies ;both are ,of course,melodrama, nothing but melodrama.
A "goualeuse" (an obsolete word) is a female street singer , who sings to earn her daily bread : Edith Piaf began her career as a goualeuse ,but many of those gals were in dire straits ,often starving.
Lys Gauty only appeared twice on the silver screen and was essentially a successful singer: cine buffs will remember she sang "le chaland qui passe" ,the song featured in Jean Vigo's classic "l'Atalante "(1933-34),included against the director's will.
As she was not really a professional actress,Lys Gauty copes well with this part of a doomed gal , living on a barge -another similarity with Vigo's masterpiece .
For people who love melodramas,it's a real guilty pleasure ,and in spite of Fernand Rivers' flat direction ,it grabs the viewer from start to finish.
There's a fine colorful depiction of the banks of the river Marne where a wedding is to take place ,but the less-than-attractive fiancés stays aside , the main characters are Pierre Duchemin, a young man with a chip on his shoulder and his lover,la goualeuse.Whereas she's resigned to her fate ,he rebels against a society who left him by the wayside .His resentment is intense.
In spite of the melodramatic effects ,there's an anarchist side to "la goualeuse"; In the laws court where they are summoned , the humble people who often live on a barge feel the gap between them, humble uneducated people ,and the magistrates ,the wealthy man's lawyer .They are worlds apart .During the trial ,they often involuntary turn the questionings into a farce .
For the wealthy man,there's always a providential world; for the illegitimate son and for the girl born in the gutter , the ending leaves no hope; whereas "le coupable" featured a (not very plausible) happy end , "la goualeuse " denouement is close to film noir at its darkest.