Les Enfants terribles (The Strange Ones) (1950)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
Adapted by Jean Cocteau from his own novel and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, Les Enfants Terribles is set in motion when a sensitive youth, Paul (Edouard Dermit), is injured by a snowball flung by school bully Dargelos (Renée Cosima, an actress in male drag). The bully later reappears in the form of a young girl, Agathe (played again by Cosima), with whom Paul becomes infatuated. This arouses the displeasure of Paul's sister, Elisabeth (Nicole Stephane), who also harbors a carnal desire for her brother. Elisabeth arranges to destroy Paul's romance, forcing Agathe to marry another. The sister gets her comeuppance in a perversely indirect fashion at the hands of the male bully Dargelos. This film was completed in 1952, but not released in the U.S. until 1975. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Les Enfants terribles (The Strange Ones)
Jean Cocteau has written the pic and delivers the commentary, which creates a gripping, dream-like attraction.
Perhaps Melville is the only one who could have directed Cocteau's book of childish mind games so lucidly.
Unfortunately, the film's more poetic visual tendencies are frequently undermined by the unnecessary narration written and performed by Cocteau himself, which informs us of emotions and psychological states that are mostly evident on-screen.
One must admire the talents of Melville and Cocteau while watching the film, but the strongest emotions are arch and the biggest plot turns are silly.
Audience Reviews for Les Enfants terribles (The Strange Ones)
far from being one of melvilles better films, the film suffers from intolerable characters and a dull and pointless story through 3/4 of the film. thankfully melville did a lot with a little, redeeming the otherwise dull story with an interesting and tragic final act. the technical points also save the film with great direction, interesting camera angles, and great lighting choices, especially in the gallery scenes. overall somewhat disappointing but still very worthwhile, especially for melville fans.
"Les Enfants Terribles" starts with boys with being boys, but maybe too much as Paul(Edouard Dermithe) is injured by an errant throw in a snowball fight lobbed by Dargelos(Renee Cosima). While Dargelos is expelled, it is not for that but for a run-in with the headmaster(Jean-Marie Robain). As far as Paul goes, the family doctor(Maurice Revel) says he will be okay with some rest, which leaves his sister Elisabeth(Nicole Stephane) to take care of him along with their invalid mother(Maria Cyliakus). When she dies, their friend Gerard(Jacques Bernard) takes them on a holiday to the sea.
"Les Enfants Terribles" is a darkly entertaining tale of family tragedy and how family while comforting can also be the worst of traps at times. So while the movie has one eye on the past, it also has another one on the future, as these young people have already had more than their share of experience with death. That not only the involves the complicated feelings the characters have for each other that they have a hard time expressing despite all the words but also the movie's anticipating the French New Wave in its character structure and linking narration.
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