May not be Renoir's best, yet this remarkable drama is thoroughly absorbing in the mode characters move to self-destruction, in line with the riveting train opening sequence. Doses of sensuality and fatalism are injected at various points in the narrative and the social malaise is brilliantly captured in the dilemmas behind individual decisions. Gabin's and Simon's faces are raised to phenomenological height. Superb!
Just as violent as unexpected, a train rushes through the soft and tender landscapes. A young lady, broken and wounded, seductive and innocent, has sold her heart to the forces of evil. Are we driven by love, anger or loneliness? In the human beast, these forces are not easy to distinguish.
The commitment to reality that would be inherited by the Italians after the war, and then praised by Bazin, is here in the psychological ambiguity and the looseness of narration (time is not bent by drama, it's the dramatic events that happen in a natural time). It's, obviously, along with La Chienne, Renoir's most noirish film.
Any film that has Simone Simon will have my attention and, in this case, Renoir is a bonus. While I don't think the material is all that rich, it was a pleasure to witness this unique chapter in the evolution and eventual birth of the film noir. It also leads me to believe that Renoir may, in fact, be the most influential of all directors since he precedes not only film noir, but also neorealism with Toni.
The antithesis of Rules of the Game in its form. While the latter employs omnidirectional movement to explore on-screen space and promote humanism via inclusive fluidity, the tracking shots here are used quite literally: the dolly track and the railway track mimic each other, representing nothing more than a predetermined (and doomed) path from A to B. Movement is, thus, paradoxically associated with imprisonment.
I loved the train-scenes . Because of the energy of the machines, the film successfully transported, the loud, almost unbearable noises. I think I saw in them the peak moments of escapeing the tragic that determined the main characters since the beginning of the film.