Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Un Singe en hiver

1962, France, directed by Henri Verneuil

A meeting-of-the-generations picture, the only time that Gabin appeared with Belmondo, the most iconic actor of the New Wave, and their distinctly different styles work very well here: Gabin's mostly disciplined technique -- there's a good deal to Farran Smith Nehme's comment that Gabin lets the action come to him, both in the film she's discussing and in his broader career -- contrasts with Belmondo's bundle of nervous energy, although one of the film's great pleasures is the way that the two quite different actors move toward the centre as their characters develop an unlikely friendship. The pair seem to have an entirely unforced camaraderie onscreen, though Belmondo suggested in an interview that Gabin barely spoke to him when he wasn't delivering a line; the magic of the movies, indeed. Verneuil is not an especially innovative director, but he did have a fine sense of how long to allow a scene to play out, and the set pieces are especially well-calibrated -- drunken antics can easily become tiresome, whether onscreen or off, and Verneuil knows just when to cut away to the next scene while still indulging our desire to see the actors play broad strokes. After the fun, the ending is surprisingly poignant -- something of a rueful hangover and yet invested with a great deal of affection.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States