Lacombe Lucien - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Lacombe Lucien Reviews

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December 6, 2014
The 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature went to Patrick Modiano, co-writer of this 1974 French film. Pierre Blaise gives a standout performance as the title character Lucien Lacombe, an enigmatic young man rejected by the Resistance in 1944 and instead stumbling into a role as a member of the Gestapo. The character is somewhat enigmatic and never successfully sympathetic but instead young, apathetic, selfish, cruel, quick to take advantage of his unexpected new powers as a German policeman but forced to face the consequences of the war, especially after he falls in love with a young Jewish woman.

The movie is tense and suspenseful precisely because it is always unclear what Lacombe will do next, even after he begins to realize that he is probably on the wrong side of the war.

One of the more disturbing aspects of the film is the apparent lack of rules about harming animals during the filming. There are some really gruesome dispatches of animals that reflect the time and culture and add to the character's cruelty and the bleakness of the film. This is not an enjoyable movie to watch but it is incredibly well done and its commentary about war and complicity will likely always be timely.
September 27, 2014
Louis Malle has set himself a particularly difficult challenge here: to compose a character study of an inarticulate man-child. But he has a purpose, for Lucien Lacombe is meant to represent the kind of French adolescent who might have been drawn to collaborate with the Nazis during the Occupation. He's not mature yet and vaguely frustrated with his lot (working at a nursing home in a small rural community) - he might be willing to join the Resistance but is turned down for being too young and unfocused. So, he is easily seduced by the power and decadence of the collaborators. As others have suggested, Malle (like Marcel Ophuls in The Sorrow and the Pity) has aimed to portray the "banality of evil" as produced by average individuals who, under other circumstances, probably wouldn't have acted this way. That is an open question for sure but the combination of person (Lacombe, Lucien) and situation (Vichy, France) may ignite to produce horrors. When Lucien becomes attracted to a young Jewish girl, the Gestapo power he possesses allows him to act willfully and to initiate actions that have terrible consequences; we just aren't sure whether he fully understands what he's doing. If this is really how evil materializes, we will all need to be on our guard.
May 17, 2014
good WWII chronicle gr8 music by django reinhardt
½ February 9, 2014
Louis Malle could well be one of the most daring and versatile director at all times. He continues to shock the world by discussing unorthodox, if not controversial issues, like French collaboration with the Nazis here. Like his later work "Au Revoir Les Enfants", this film offers you another angle to explore the Nazi occupation era. Lucien, the leading character here, is a spine-shivering murderer to us throughout. But if we look deeper, we will find out that he actually wants to achieve something without a "correct" moral sense, which leads to his tragic fate. Such innovative character construction through 2 seemingly unrelated aspects in life could only be mastered by geniuses like Malle.
½ April 10, 2013
This movie feels incomplete. Our main character, Lucien, is completely devoid of personality: he seems bored or indifferent to everything in a way that would shame Kristen Stewart. He tries to join the French Resistance not because he believes in anything but because he wants excitement. When he is refused, he promptly joins the Gestapo and gives them the names of everyone in the Underground. If he does it out of spite, none is shown.

Lucien uses his new power like a little kid who's discovered a gun. He ruins the lives of a Jewish family because he wants to have sex with the daughter. The father (probably the only sympathetic character) knows he has no way out with Lucien as a Gestapo member but the daughter hardly cares. Even after her father is sent away (most likely to a death camp), she follows him into the wilderness like a Stockholm Syndrome patient. Fittingly, her name is France.

There are so many parts of the story that don't add up: why does the father march into the Gestapo headquarters risking his family's safety? Why does the maid stay with the Germans when she knows the war will end soon and what does she even see in Lucien? Is Lucien's mother just fine with her son turning her neighbors over the Germans? The ending goes absolutely nowhere.

I guess the intention in Lucien's character is that there's no motive, emotion, or remorse. He kills people like he kills rabbits. There's no difference for him. Perhaps that's supposed to make him frightening, but it doesn't, he just comes across and simplistic and boring. The Criterion pamphlet that came with this DVD explains that he's supposed to be an everyday, ordinary person, but Lucien isn't because there's not the audience can identify with. He's just a hollow person.

This is pretty unrelated, but the animal abuse in this movie is pretty terrible.
½ January 29, 2013
During the WWII, a French countryside boy, Lucien Lacombe, insouciantly gets involved and recruited by the local Gestapo, after procuring the fast-gained high-handed social position and war trophies, his life has descended into a limbo when he is enamored with a Jewish girl.

Louis Malle's Oscar-nominated WII feature clings on a well-balanced pace, concocts a carefully-conducted ideological wartime mind state from assorted kinds, mainly zooming in on the conflicting counterpoise between French-born Gestapos (there are scarcely any German has been mentioned in the film) and the fretful Jews in French. Also the resistance power as the third party has never been really put a sizable weight in the narrative line (not as in Jean-Pierre Melville's ARMY OF SHADOWS, 1969, 9/10).

The metaphor of the overpowering horror at then is constantly and insistently being dispersed by a motley slaying of various animals, killing birds, dead horse, hunting rabbits, catching a domestic hen and snapping its neck, even a dying dalmatian in the ominously poised supporting-characters-go-to-hell slaughter. All the shots emit a kind of unsettling cinematic impact on the viewers (animal lovers particularly), the message has been unmistakably transmitted, but still not recommendable.

First-timer and amateurish leading actor Pierre Blaise (who would unfortunately die in a car accident one year later) bears a tremendous balance of ennui and restlessness, an archetype of the rebellion youth, without any stage-fright to give away his newbie tag, his taciturn image can last for ever. Another great performance is from Holger Löwenadler, the Jewish father-in-law figure for Lucien, whose dignified integrity has to miserably yield to a adrenalin-driven adolescent's advance on his daughter, an exemplified cautionary tale of the misappropriation of weaponry and power. The daughter, Lucien's love interest, played by Aurore Clément, is a more opportunist symbol, oscillating between subservient lover and vengeful daughter. Among a handful of supporting roles, most of which are abruptly dissipating in the second half when the love-pursuit dominates the film, it could have been a potpourri of bountiful individual explorations, but Malle didn't opt for that way.

The bleak shots of the ghost town after curfew is an indelible testimony of the dreadful terror of the life during wartime, Malle's film outlandishly culminates in a 15 minutes bucolic spree with Lucien, the daughter and her grandmother (an almost wordless Therese Giehse, but exudes great force of hatred even for a dazed glance), living in his countryside house (bombed and deserted now), rendering the film its most telling salve to the young lost souls, one may get a belated palpitation towards our young protagonist out of detachment which for me is the pre-eminent sense through its 138 minutes running time.
January 13, 2013
This is a movie about life during war as it is. No heroics, no charm. The movie is about an unsophisticated kid from country side who takes full advantage of the war. Initially Lucien tries to join the resistance but he is denied as there are many more like him. On being refused he joins Gestapo and thoroughly enjoys all the benefits associated with it. He blackmails a Jew tailor and seduces his beautiful daughter. Every frame of the movie shows only two things: Lucien's selfishness and his innocence. In spite of being with the Gestapo he is no thug. He doesn't understand all the complexities. He wants to fight and also enjoy all the benefits that comes from being part of the German police.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2012
Starts out slow, but build itself perfectly. Louis Malle is a terrific filmmaker who can write as well as he directs, which is rare. Not my favorite of his though, still a very solid drama.
April 29, 2012
A young man (Pierre Blaise) wants to be part of the French Resistance during the final stages of World War II. However, he is restricted by the organization and joins the French Gestapo, harassing and arresting individuals who are thought to be against the Germans. He also develops a love affair with a woman who is from the opposite side from him. Pretty compelling movie that fully shows a corrupt young man who obviously has a yearning to kill. Solidly acted and very nice photographed. Sadly, he also loves to kill animals just for the fun of it, especially in the first twenty minutes of the movie. I really not sure if that was needed to show the animals killed and for that, the movie loses points for. Even despite the interesting story, a warning must be issued to viewers with regards to the animal cruelty, which was controversial upon release in 1974.
½ September 14, 2011
A side of WW2 rarely seen in movies. It's a tough, powerful film that will shake you up.
June 13, 2011
Along with "Come and see" the best film depicting youth's during war.
½ May 3, 2011
The finest depiction of the thug mentality I've ever seen.
February 5, 2011
This is a good movie, perhaps - a very good movie, but really sad.
According to Wikipedia, film critic for The New York Times Vincent Canby said that film center character, "must remain forever mysterious, forever beyond our sympathy". While there hardly could be any sympathy indeed, I don't see much of mystery in Lucien. Louis Malle showed us enough to see this undeveloped but sadistic character. He is not hopeless, he could become closer to norm, but on the other side, at this age person must already responsible for himself. Lucien Lacombe fails to be responsible.
A reviewer at IMDB said something about "innocence corrupted by war". Oh, no. It's not innocence, it's a brutal under-development. War didn't teach Lucien to kill birds. And I hope a reviewer would never encounter such "innocent" luciens on his way. I served in Russian army and I saw such characters...
½ January 22, 2011
Na een half uur dan toch maar uitgezet...
½ November 22, 2010
Slightly long but never the less a very entertaining film dealing with one of Frances darkest secret,the collaberation of French men and women during the occupation from 40-1944.

Malle chooses to focus his attention on Lucien ,who when rejected by the resistance changes sides and informs and collaberates for the Vichy French Goverment.

Pierre Blaise plays Lucien as a somewhat stupid savage at the start to a rather more cunning and wily collaberator as the film progresses.

To this brew Malle adds a love story concerning Lucien and a local Jewish girl who is in hiding with her tailor father.

Lucien uses all his nastiness to grab hold of the girl and its only during the fianl moments of the film that he changes his roles and helps the girl to escape.

Malle has a great feel for the period and the film is better for containing largely unknown actors.

Another winner from the vastly underated Malle
October 15, 2010
Lucien is a boy with need to belong into something, after being rejected French resistance he joins German police. Setting is absurd but interesting. However, Malle misses to take a full advantage of the story. Instead of actions of Lucien's career we see him lurking in one jew tailor's house trying to make friendly with him and his daughter. Nevertheless, film doesn't take it's side too clearly with I wound confusing.
June 15, 2010
One of the greatest movies about fascism ever made.
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2010
Rich absurdities abound.
May 26, 2010
chef-d'oeuvre. French Gestapo. who would thought
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