[Last Film I Saw] Les enfants terribles (1950)

Title: Les enfants terribles
Year: 1950
Language: French
Country: France
Genre: Drama
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Writers:
Jean Cocteau
Jean-Pierre Melville
Cast:
Nicole Stéphane
Edouard Dermithe
Renée Cosima
Jacques Bernard
Melvyn Martin
Maria Cyliakus
Maurice Revel
Rating: 6.6/10

Another KVIFF viewing of Jean-Pierre Melville’s tribute section, after LE SAMOURAI (1967). This one is Melville’s earlier work, a collaboration with Jean Cocteau, an adaption of Cocteau’s internationally famed eponymous novel, which at first glance would seem to be deviated from Melville’s comfort zone, the film has a more explicit portrayal of humanity in its darkest corner, and the fodder has a comprehensive penchant to theatricality and character study.

A quite conspicuous clash comes from the cast, to wit Edouard Dermithe, the leading protagonist as Peter, who would not be Melville’s first choice but thanks to Cocteau’s relentless insistence (Edouard is said to be his lover at that time), notwithstanding his dandy contour is unable to deliver any conceivable conviction which his role should have embodied, no matter how many close-ups swooping upon his statuesque face, it is certainly beyond the rescue even Melville had exerted himself to the upmost. Nicole Stéphane and Renée Cosima, on the other hand, are the messiahs of the cast, several emotion-eruption takes are right to the point.

At least Melville still manifests his capacity is other department of the films, the cinematography from DP Henri Decaë infuses very seclude intimacy during the siblings’ scenes when a whiff of incestuous ambiguity permeates the whole frame. When the setting moves to the grand apartment in the latter part in the film, the spiderweb of deconstructing an immoral subterfuge foiled with riveting and labyrinthine shots culminates the film with a quite amazing coda, which by no means should be even scarcely credited for Mr. Dermithe.

So the win-win combo seems not to fire up to one’s expectation, and it is a quite qualified candidate needs a remake, then who is the proper person at the helm? I dare to suggest Jacques Audiard if one must be French.

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