Le Beau Serge Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ March 21, 2014
Claude Chabrol's feature debut, "Le Beau Serge," isn't as strong as his subsequent "Les Cousins" (which stars the same two actors), but it's still an engrossing, thoughtful look at love and friendship. Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) is a sensitive young man who returns to his small village after a debilitating lung illness. Sadly, he finds his once-promising friend Serge (Gerard Blain) deteriorated into drunken misery. Serge has a lousy job, a bad attitude and a sad relationship with a pregnant wife whom he doesn't love. Francois (who has a faint messiah complex) has unrealistic ambitions to inspire Serge and the other townsfolk out of their resigned mundanity, but trouble starts when he courts a wanton teenager (Bernadette Lafont) with a belligerent, jealous caretaker. "Serge" seems a bit soft when compared with many other French New Wave films -- especially given its somewhat syrupy, intrusive score -- but Lafont's sexy, calculating character adds some edge. Watch for assistant director Philippe de Broca (later, a successful filmmaker on his own) briefly appearing as a friend knowingly named "Jacques Rivette." Warning: The TCM print I saw had two surprising external flaws. The lazy subtitles opted to skip far too much "trivial" dialogue, and the film image had some notable blemishes in the last 15 minutes. In a work only dating from the late 1950s, the latter seems inexcusable.
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2011
Le Beau Serge is the first film by Claude Chabrol and in his debut creates a wonderful Drama with solid acting and amazing artistic characteristics. The film which was shot in his own childhood village really adds to the feel of the story and made for a beautiful location. In one of the supplementary features the Director now in his old age talks about going back there and how he does so often. Many of the actors meet one another in the village where many still reside to this day, what a fascinating and wonderful place! The story is one that is very down to earth and focuses on tough and emotional topics and make it a heart wrenching watch that is wonderful to view. This is a hugely influential film in the French New Wave, some argue it's the first, but either way it is truly a fascinating gem!
½ May 12, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014

(1959) Le Beau Serge/ Handsome Serge
(In French with English subtitles)
DRAMA

First film from veteran filmmaker Claude Chabrol who was along with Francois Truffaut and Jean Luc Godard part of the 'French New Wave'. Much more resonating than Chabrol's other film "Les Cousins" made during the same year. This is the first of two movies he made during that particular year he reused two of the same actors of Gérard Blain and Jean-Claude Brialy for two different movies. Written and directed by Claude Chabrol starring Jean-Claude Brialy as François Baillou, who's just returning back to the little village he grew up in from his studies. And finds that, even though the village itself hadn't changed much during his long absence, but that many of it's local residents had, particularly his best friend, Serge( Gérard Blain), consistently on a drinking binge, living with his girlfriend who's expecting their first child. The one scene I was incapable to understand are the relationship between the drunken father Glomaud (Edmond Beauchamp), and the daughter, Maria (Bernadette Lafont) scene, which reagrds to the reaction from François which that one scene can be defined as totally outdated.


This entire theme should be something viewers should able to identify with because it often questions viewers how things can change after a long absence, and I do know a great amount of people can either change for the worst or for the better. But because of social media, sometimes it almost seems like they're still here living with them.

3 out of 4 stars
½ April 9, 2014
Well I have seen this contender for the title of "first french new wave film", along with "The 400 Blows" and "Breathless". (Some make a case for an Agnes Varda film as well - I'll check that out later) This is the bleakest of the three and seems like it forms the roots for a James Dean story. I understand it was heavily influenced by "Shadow of a Doubt". Very sparing and stripped down. It reminded a bit of my first Fellini movie, "La Strada" where I was expecting something flashier but grew to appreciate it over time after I got over my U.S. movie going training for over the top effects and visual tricks. In the same spirit of having neorealism grow on you, this film also grew on me while I was watching it. Cameos by Chabrol and Philippe de Broca. It was the first film made by the "Cashiers du cinema" crowd funded by a surprise inheritance. Not as many tricks in it as Godard, but a solid film nonetheless.
December 23, 2012
There seems to be a novelty within movies from the 1950's...one that captures your attention and affection regardless of the plot. Le Beau Serge was definitely one of those movies, which showcased the relationship between two friends and the emotions, guilt, and redemption shared between them. It evokes a sense of shared humanity and what makes it even better is the beautiful, charming city this movie is set in.
December 22, 2011
A very good debut film by Claude Chabrol, with a compelling story about friendship and strong performances by the two lead actors.
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2011
Le Beau Serge is the first film by Claude Chabrol and in his debut creates a wonderful Drama with solid acting and amazing artistic characteristics. The film which was shot in his own childhood village really adds to the feel of the story and made for a beautiful location. In one of the supplementary features the Director now in his old age talks about going back there and how he does so often. Many of the actors meet one another in the village where many still reside to this day, what a fascinating and wonderful place! The story is one that is very down to earth and focuses on tough and emotional topics and make it a heart wrenching watch that is wonderful to view. This is a hugely influential film in the French New Wave, some argue it's the first, but either way it is truly a fascinating gem!
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