The Rules of the Game (La règle du jeu) 1939

The Rules of the Game

Critics Consensus

Its genius escaped many viewers at the time, but in retrospect, The Rules of the Game stands as one of Jean Renoir's -- and cinema's -- finest works.

96%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 50

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,222

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Movie Info

In this melancholy French social satire, André (Roland Toutain) is having an affair with Christine (Nora Gregor), whose husband, Robert (Marcel Dalio), himself is hiding a mistress. Meanwhile Christine's married maid, Lisette (Paulette Dubost), is romantically entangled with the local poacher. At a hunting party, trusted friend Octave (Jean Renoir) also confesses his feelings for Christine, as the passions of the servants and aristocrats dangerously collide.

Cast & Crew

Marcel Dalio
Robert de la Cheyniest
Nora Gregor
Christine de la Cheyniest
Mila Parély
Geneviève de Marras
Roland Toutain
André Jurieux
Paulette Dubost
Lisette, sa Camériste
Gaston Modot
Schumacher, le garde-chasse
Julien Carette
Marceau, le braconnier
Odette Talazac
Mme. de la Plante
Pierre Magnier
Le Général
Roger Désormières
Original Music
Jean-Paul Alphen
Cinematographer
Jean Bachelet
Cinematographer
Jacques Lemare
Cinematographer
Alain Renoir
Cinematographer
Marthe Huguet
Film Editor
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News & Interviews for The Rules of the Game (La règle du jeu)

Critic Reviews for The Rules of the Game (La règle du jeu)

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (48) | Rotten (2)

  • The word "Mozartean"... gets thrown around a little too eagerly by critics, but one movie, as almost everyone agrees, deserves this supreme benediction -- Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game.

    June 3, 2014 | Full Review…

    David Denby

    New Yorker
    Top Critic
  • On the surface, a lace of flirtations, insinuations and rejections compose the basic plotting. But Renoir uses flashes of accelerating drama to amplify his bigger points.

    June 3, 2014 | Full Review…
  • As an experiment it's interesting, but Jean Renoir has made a common error: he attempts to crowd too many ideas into 80 minutes of film fare, resulting in confusion.

    July 6, 2010 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The mobile camera seems to be a member of the party, as it follows the almost balletically choreographed movements of the cast. The effect for the audience is transcendental. We are watching life at its messiest, unfolding at its most beautiful.

    April 26, 2007 | Full Review…
  • A disaster when initially released, the movie's reputation has only grown since.

    February 16, 2007 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • There are about a dozen genuine miracles in the history of cinema, and one of them is Jean Renoir's supreme 1939 tragi-comedy The Rules of the Game.

    December 28, 2006 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Rules of the Game (La règle du jeu)

  • Sep 24, 2018
    A mostly average film, with average acting and plot (3 stars), plus half a star for its social satire (3.5 stars), minus half a star for its extended bunny/pheasant massacre (3 stars, and good lord, I don't care if this is commentary on man's cruelty, it's awful). At its best, director Jean Renoir gives us brilliant criticism of just how vapid and morally bereft the bourgeoisie of his day were, putting the mirror up so close to French society that audiences were outraged and booing in the cinema. While his characters are jovial enough in various social gatherings, they have no scruples, sincerity, or intellectual depth, and spouses cheat on one another not so much out of real passion or love for someone else, but out of ennui. "Sincere people are such bores," one says, reflecting a lack of values. They calmly slaughter bunnies that have been driven towards them, considering it a "hunt", one laughs as he relates the story of a man who died in a self-inflicted gun accident, and later there is a remarkable lack of real concern or empathy when someone else is hurt (being vague on purpose). They goof around sophomorically in front of servants, who clearly don't respect them, but the servants themselves also have their own infidelities. In 'The Rules of the Game', there are very few real rules, just the entitlement to make up the rules that comes with wealth. The characters are maddeningly unlikeable, and of course, that's the point. Renoir does some interesting work with the camera in the film, putting it in motion almost as if it's a character or we're voyeurs into these scenes as the audience, but I think more is made of this than it should be. Similarly, I don't put much in the fact that the film was made in 1939 and released less than a year before Germany invaded France; to me that seems more coincidence than Renoir's statement that it is a "war film and yet there is no reference to the war." As the action picks up in the second half, with guests scurrying around the chateau either to arrange for or break up trysts, it feels very much like a Hollywood screwball comedy from the period, with farcical elements and attempts at humor which aren't all that funny (e.g. the bear suit). There's enough here to make the film watchable, but it's hard to understand how it ended up so highly regarded.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • May 02, 2013
    I hope I managed to see the restored director's cut but even if it was not, I still appreciated the camera work in this film. The humour only serves to punctuate the tragedy.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 20, 2012
    Concealing a lot of complexity in its apparently simple plot, this fabulous tragicomedy (which almost got lost in History) is a witty and clever commentary on the rules of bourgeoisie and social relations - a classic of French Cinema to be seen and re-seen many times.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 14, 2012
    The Rules of the Game goes down as an instant classic, much like the effect Citizen Kane or The Godfather had on me. Although the first bit of the movie is quite confusing, once you learn the faces and names of the characters, The Rules of the Game is a masterpiece. The characters are magnificently built and overall, this is one of the most well made films I have ever seen. Favorite Scene: The hunting scene
    Anthony L Super Reviewer

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