Wednesday, January 27, 2016


1935, France, directed by Jean Renoir

A very interesting on-location picture, clearly made under the influence of Pagnol in terms of the southern realism on display (Pagnol's company was involved with the film, but as distributor rather than producer). There's little optimism here in this deliberately circular tale -- the contrast between the larkish beginning and the pessimism of the conclusion is very stark, and in many ways the film has a modernity that Renoir may not have intended, at least with respect to the pointed commentary on immigration, something that's hard to push out of the mind in early 2016. If Pagnol himself had made this I'd expect it to be leavened with a little more comic relief, or even perhaps the more gentle acceptance of the vagaries of humanity that you find in much of Renoir's best work. I'm not all that familiar with Charles Blavette, who plays Toni, though he did appear in Pagnol's La Femme du boulanger among others; more recognizable to me was Andrex, whose apparently permanent cheeriness is used to good subversive effect in the conclusion.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States