Thursday, July 12, 2007

La Régle du jeu (1939)


"I wanted to depict a society dancing on a volcano" said Jean Renoir in regards to this wise, worldly and intricate comedy of pre-war upstairs-downstairs parallels and vicissitudes. He plays it wry and cheeky, but don't underestimate his bite. He paints an outwardly elegant though charred milieu, where characters know all there is to know about their own as well as each other's caprices and shortcomings, and have learned to be quite relaxed about them - those that haven't are bound to suffer. And though Renoir is eager to inject wherever possible his famous generosity of spirit, he's too shrewd to be at all optimistic. You could accuse him of cynicism, but you'd be misguided. He's long past cynicism.
Either due to Renoir's guile or due to the decades-worth of mishandling of its prints (it was suppressed, savagely recut, pronounced forever lost, then finally restored in the 50s), the picture is bathed in a frothy, silvery haze, which does wonders for its atmosphere.

dir: Jean Renoir
wr: Jean Renoir, Carl Koch
ph: Jean-Paul Alphen, Jean Bachelet, Jacques Lemare, Alain Renoir
ed: Marthe Huguet, Marguerite Renoir
cast: Nora Gregor, Marcel Dalio, Julien Carette, Roland Toutain, Jean Renoir, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parély, Gaston Modot, Odette Talazac, Pierre Magnier, Eddy Debray, Claire Gérard, Anne Mayen, Lise Elina, Pierre Nay, Richard Francoeur, Léon Larive

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