Friday, August 31, 2007

Les Enfants Terribles (1950, Jean-Pierre Melville)

I wasn't sure what to expect from a Melville/Cocteau collaboration, but their styles fit together surprisingly well. It's not as fanciful as one of Cocteau's own directorial efforts- compare the snowball fight here with the one in Blood of a Poet- but Melville is able to stylize this in his own way. The biggest kinship I see between the two filmmakers is that their best works deal with death, although they diverge there, and instead of the blurred line between the living and dead common to Cocteau's work, Melville imbues the story with a sense of gloom, like a fog that settles in over the action. Watching it, I never quite felt like I was watching events play out- rather that they'd been filtered through the prism of memory. But whose? Cocteau's, I dare say. I can definitely see the debt The Dreamers owes to this film, and Dreamers writer Gilbert Adair freely admits it, to his credit. Rating: ***1/2 out of ****.

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