After garnering international acclaim for such seminal crowd-pleasers as The Lovers and Zazie dans le métro, Louis Malle gave his fans a shock with The Fire Within (Le feu follet), a penetrating study of individual and social inertia. Maurice Ronet (Elevator to the Gallows), in an implosive, haunted performance, plays Alain Leroy, a self-destructive writer who resolves to kill himself and spends the next twenty-four hours trying to reconnect with a host of wayward friends. Unsparing in its portrait of Alain’s inner turmoil and shot with remarkable clarity, The Fire Within is one of Malle’s darkest and most personal films. —The Criterion Collection
Louis Malle (born October 30, 1932, Thumeries, France—died November 23, 1995, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.) French motion-picture director whose eclectic films were noted for their emotional realism and stylistic simplicity.
Malle’s wealthy family resisted his early interest in film but allowed him to enter the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies in Paris in 1950. After studying at the institute, he worked as an assistant to filmmaker Robert Bresson and codirected the documentary Le Monde du silence (1956; The Silent World) with underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Malle’s first feature film, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (1957; Frantic), was a psychological thriller. His second, Les Amants (1958; The Lovers), was a commercial success and established Malle and its star, Jeanne Moreau, in the film industry. The film’s lyrical love scenes, tracked with exquisite timing, exhibit Malle’s typically bold and uninhibited treatment of sensual themes. Social alienation… read more
Neither the youthful abscondment of Elevator to the Gallows nor the matured yearning of The Lovers, The Fire Within cuts through the post-adolescent, anguished search for meaning against desire and connection, through the male gaze with a restrained, Bressonian sobriety. Notwithstanding a muffled humanity, its exchanges of apathy, however, brink on arid platitudes, as Malle’s versatility remains tacitly exhibited. Alternatively: Breathless, had Godard and Belmondo been that much greater nihilists (while just less of one than Pickpocket still). Rather: ho-hum.
this was certainly one of the best portrayals of anxiety and depression that I've seen on film during this time. this was also a much darker piece of French new wave cinema, and much quieter. it hangs on every word, every scene, with no colors to hang to. the day he says his goodbyes is echoing every now and then, in his mind. the film is beautifully depressing, but needs to be seen.
Suicidal and clinically depressed people are definitely hard to be around, and its almost shocking to watch all these other people who love the main character keep saying things like, "I'm so happy to see you! We need you back! You must keep checking in!" when the guy acts like a jerk to everyone, but so goes sitting for two hours with an actually depressed person. If that's what you want to watch. --PolarisDiB
There’s nothing better than lying down in pitch blackness with french new wave oozing from your screen. Maybe it was because I was sleepy or Erik Satie’s piano played with my mind, but some of the… read review
I’m not exactly sure what to say about the film, except that I found myself considering what exactly Alain was thinking throughout his last hours. I realized that what I loved so much about The Fire… read review
Louis Malle directs this adaptation of La Rochelle’s account of the suicide of a friend, himself at a crossroads, having just turned 30 and his biggest hit (“The Lovers”) five years past, almost as… read review