Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Impasse des Deux Anges

1948, France, directed by Maurice Tourneur

While Chabrol may, as I wrote recently, have grouped Impasse des Deux Anges with Panique and Macadam as examples of the cynicism and despair of post-war French film, the film reminded me more of Christian-Jaque's great 1946 movie Un Revenant -- both films have a gnawing sense of despair about the unrecoverable past, an idea with both general and very specific historical resonances in the France of 1948, while both also feature plotlines in which characters return to locations critical to their former lives. 

While Paul Meurisse plays, not for the first time, a fellow from the wrong side of the tracks -- and one who knows just what to do when a gun comes his way -- this is a different kind of criminal, with a sense of honour that goes well beyond the criminal code as he resolves the complications of his past affair with Simone Signoret, who has hit the marital big time in Meurisse's absence. Where Signoret is stunningly luminous -- she really was a great beauty, though she seems to have cared little for such accolades -- Meurisse hides his light under a bushel, underplaying to the point where it's almost aggressive. The sequence where he listens to Signoret exuberantly remembering their past together, barely nodding his head but clearly rapt, is a marvel.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States