28 November 2009 | dbdumonteil
The silence of the trouts
"Roman De Gare" is Lelouch's best movie since his good comedy/thrillers of the seventies ("Le Voyou" "LE Chat Et La Souris" "LA Bonne Année".)
It must be the screenplay:for it does not present itself as typifying a new Lelouch approach;the group of people ,some of whom having a thin connection between them is as old as the hills in Lelouch's filmography from "Toute Une Vie" to "Les Uns ET Les Autres";the reality/fiction subject was already broached in "Edith And Marcel" a forerunner of "La Mome";Lelouch's fondness for French song is also to be found here (represented by a Gilbert Becaud mini-repertoire ,which has no real connection with the plot;in the past,it was Sacha Distel,Johnny Hallyday and ,yuk ,Mireille Mathieu.)The "things are not what they seem" topic was the main interest of the 1970 effort "le Voyou" and continued with such works as "Viva La Vie" .
And yet,the impression left by the movie as a whole is a definitely more balanced ,poised and modest Lelouch.Once this would have been thought a downright incongruity ,even an impossibility -the movie was first shown as a work made by an anonymous director - ,neither desirable nor likely.But now,it seems Lelouch is on the right track again.
Gone are the pretensions of the mammoth movies ,the likes of "Les Uns Et Les Autres" ;Gone is the blandness of psychological dramas such as "Et Si C'Etait A Refaire" ;instead the viewer rejoices in the presence of wonderful lines sometimes worthy of Guitry and Jeanson.I remember TRuffaut telling Lelouch "UN Homme Et Une Femme " was the best New Wave movie;terse answer by Lelouch :"I hate N.W" ;which was rebellious at the time at least artistically.
If an influence can be felt in "Roman De Gare" ,it's that of the superior old school.Long before Lelouch ,Julien Duvivier had invented the movie made of subplots which became a seamless whole in the end .It was obvious in "Sous Le Ciel De Paris" (1951).But the movie Lelouch borrows from is arguably the overlooked and largely ignored Duvivier's "La Fete A Henriette"(1952) in which two screenwriters play a part which Dominique Pinon's role recalls.Lelouch is no match for Duvivier, he has not got his pessimism ,and he adds a detective side ,but to mention Jeanson,Guitry or Duvivier in a Lelouch review indicates that the director can age gracefully.As historian Patrick Brion wrote "LA Fete A Henriette" was plundered (and remade three times,a record for a FRench movie).Lelouch did use some elements of the movie with care and talent.
A stellar cast gives the movie much substance:Dominique Pinon is the stand-out the only French actor who is both ugly and handsome ;Myriam Boyer is the crude peasant whose only obsession is that "her son-in-law believes in God.She proves herself smarter than she first appeared,noticing that the "Jew" eats pork and that this "physician cannot stand the sight of blood" .A short-haired Fanny Ardant is cast as a writer called Judith Ralitzer (a hint at "Pulitzer" or at the "Romans De Gare" of writer Paul Loup Sulitzer?).
Witty,funny and intriguing:if someone had told me I 'd like a Lelouch movie in the naughties....