This film is like a sequel to the Irish dramatist Brian Friel's Philadelphia Here I Come with an undercurrent of unrequited love between the two main characters, Francois and Serge which results in a violent confrontation. Repression, jealousy, love, all strong human emotions, are the central story to this beautifully made film.
What a film! I think most reviewer here doesn't understand the psychological/sociological greatness of this film. Such a perfect and relevant situation of today. Someone coming back to his old mates and trying to help but they are "sentenced" themselves to a hopeless life at a young age. Really beautifully written without being too literal. Amazing observations and made with great empathy towards all.
"The 400 Blows" and "Breathless" were bigger and remain more famous, but this was the first of the New Wave directors feature length debuts, and though it doesn't have the jump cutting and montages and frenzy of an early Truffaut or Godard, Chabrol brings it in with a fresh attitude towards location and relationships.
I found the direction remarkably fluid for a first-time director, not to mention it economizes on stylistic flourishes for a more direct, incisive approach in terms of narrative, you get the feeling you're being led by a confident man with a keen sense of pacing and atmosphere. I thought it was great.
From the first few scenes,we see this will be about human nature,a portrait of provincial life.Chabrol's first film is unpolished and spontaneous,the many outdoor scenes adding to this.
I also loved his next film with the two stars --- Les Cousins.