Marcel Carné and Jacques Prevert’s classic of French poetic realism stars Jean Gabin in one of his most famous roles as François, a rough, barrel-chested loner who hides out in his apartment awaiting for the police to arrive.
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A classic of French cinema made just before the occupation. Jean Gabin plays the French everyman in this well told tale of an ordinary man pushed to his limits while dealing with an aged lothario trying to seduce the woman he loves. Gabin plays no saint here and its those qualities that make this a turn to remember. Casting and scripting are exceptional. The undertone of community and unrest quite interesting.
I spent the whole time watching this film thinking of it in terms of political allegory and trying to figure out what the characters and the interactions between them were meant to symbolize, but drawing blanks. The events were ostensibly metaphorical, but...
For some reason I didn't connect with this as much as I did with Children of the Paradise (a difficult one to top, I admit), but Carné's style and storytelling are undoubtedly effortless. Hazy poetry rooted in gritty reality. Gabin's performance is amazing as usual, and made me want to have a marathon or watching his films (or Carné's for that matter!).
Though not as good as Enfants du Paradise, which is one of my favourite films ever, this movie is a fine example of Carné's excellence as a director, with some of the most beautiful and haunting images in cinema. The cinematography, the music, not to mention Gabin's masterful performance, all contribute to make this film a memorable experience.