Maurice Ronet, 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. The Fire Within is one of Louis Malle’s darkest and most personal films.
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The main problem is that it's massively overwritten. Ronet does a great acting job, but the excessive philosophizing brings it down. Also, I hate that device that a lot of soap operas use where the people say, "He looks terrible", and of course he looks perfectly fine. I understand it with soap opera stars because they're super vain. This guy looks great all the time.
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
Nihilistic and unremittingly bleak, this film hit close to home. Ronet's haunting, tortured performance is unforgettable, as is the last, horrifying scene. Surely one of the best films about depression ever made.
Was Alain gay by any chance? I think he's clearly afraid of something, but he speaks a lot about life and its meaningless for him. He also speaks about desire but for me, it seems that he isn't able to set down any deep connection with any women at all since he didn't seem to enjoy or pursue any very long/close relationship on any scene at least and yet he "tries to force" some interest in women at the same time...
I can relate to this film. The searching, the dead desire, the philosophies. It's that utter disgust for and confusion of life that hurtles him into the next day. Some of the close ups and segments with the Satie music were very simple and beautiful. You could see the fleeting hopefulness in his friends' faces. Despite all of this, I too expected something more, but maybe that's the point. The ending was apt.