Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

Les Enfants Terribles was a good film by Jean-Pierre Melville, however I feel that if it had had Jean Cocteau's masterous touch at direction and not just the screenplay I feel it would have been much better. The story is about sixteen year old Paul, played by Edouard Dermithe, a fragile boy who becomes bedridden after being hit by a snowball at school. He lives with his invalid mother and psychotic sister, Elisabeth (played by Nicole Stéphane), who looks after their mother. Not long after Paul becomes ill, their mother passes on and it is just the two of them. They bicker constantly, even when company is present (company mostly being Gerard, Paul's friend from school). After a large fight between Paul and Elisabeth, Elisabeth decides to go get a job modeling for Gerard's uncle's high-end clothing store. While modeling Elisabeth befriends fellow model Agathe (Renée Cosima) who moves in with Paul and Elisabeth. This upsets Paul greatly, as he feels Agathe is invading his space. Through this job of Elisabeth's she meets a rich American named Michael, who for some strange reason has fallen in love with her and they are to be married. Michael owns a large eighteen-room mansion, which pleases Paul greatly because it will get both Elisabeth and Agathe out of his home. Unfortunately, however, Michael is killed in an automobile accident directly after the wedding and not soon thereafter Agathe, Paul and Gerard all move in to the mansion with Elisabeth where all kinds of drama ensues thereafter. Les Enfants Terribles is worth watching, especially due to Cocteau's fantastic script and narration. Dermithe and Stéphane give outstanding performances as the siblings constantly at each other's throats, and Jacques Bernard (Gerard) and Renée Cosima are also superb. Worth watching for sure, I just wish Cocteau had directed. This is not a slight against Jean-Pierre Melville it is simply stating Jean Cocteau's mastery behind a camera. Overall 3.0/4 Stars Grade = B

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