Le Beau Serge - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Le Beau Serge Reviews

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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ September 11, 2017
Claude Chabrol's first film has some things going for it, starting with its cinematography, simple in that it's all shot in the French village of Sardent, and yet with at least a few of the glimpses into the techniques that would be called 'New Wave'. One really feels the smallness of the village that François (Jean-Claude Brialy) returns to after some years have passed, only to find his friend Serge (Gérard Blain) a drunkard with a horrible attitude. The scenes in the snow and at night towards the ending are simply beautiful.

There is a rebelliousness to the film, mainly in the form of Serge, who is frustrated that his dreams of becoming an architect have been dashed, that he was trapped into a marriage because of a pregnancy, and the baby turned out to be stillborn. François has returned to a crumbling village whose inhabitants lead dissolute lives and believes he can and should help them, but the trouble is, they don't want his help. The relationship between the two isn't particularly profound, but the film is touching in a few places. Adding some spice to it all is Serge's flirtatious sister-in-law (Bernadette Lafont).

I didn't care for the musical score, which was too jaunty and annoying in places. After an interesting setup, the plot fizzles a bit, and I think the ending was simplistic. This is a good film, one worth watching, but a better one is Chabrol's film the following year, Les Cousins, starring the same two actors.
August 13, 2017
Great location and Chabrol is able to further establish an authentic feel with a keen examination of country life and the norms of contemporary societal expectations.
½ July 17, 2017
Monday, May 12, 2014

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

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 after finishing from his studies after 12 years. 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 regards 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
Super Reviewer
July 9, 2017
If this was the first film of the French New Wave I cannot really say, but it was the first of the Chabrol's fascinating career, with great performances and a gorgeous cinematography, and presenting us a bleak portrait of human decadence in a provincial town.
July 8, 2017
Tragic and sad, but powerful.
½ November 7, 2016
An intelligent student returns to his old, depressed town, catching up with his boyhood friend who now leads a dissolute life. It's a very good film.
½ February 29, 2016
A disturbing piece where light battles dark and faith tries to overcome despair. It's so messed up, you can't look away.
February 4, 2015
lush film xx love libby giverny x
January 16, 2015
Chabrol's first feature is very enjoyable and approachable.
Super Reviewer
½ August 13, 2014
The Nouvelle Vague directors had an otherwordly ability to display in their debuts a spectacular cinematography that reacted properly with either the characters, the situations, or even both.

Simple-minded in its surface and thought-provoking at its core, Chabrol's debut is a powerful drama about a man that returns to his home town in the country after more than 10 years. However, he is not only surprised at the fact that his childhood friendship Serge is an alcoholic chauvinist, but also that he (François) begins unwillingly to hurt others more than just being a neutral visit. Progressively, characters begin to reveal their true faces, and most of them turn out to be more disgusting than what seemed at first glance. The film is also considered as the very first film of the French New Wave movement - although I'm inclined towards the minority that gives such credit to Varda's La pointe-Courte (1955).

Chabrol was openly an admirer of Alfred Hitchcock, and the entire execution of Le Beau Serge is a clear evidence of this fact. Closely attached to Shadow of a Doubt (1943) plotwise, this is a drama that is promordially centered on the character François and how everything around him reacts to his presence, very similar to the character-centered thrillers of Hitchcock. Also, an antagonist of powerful presence challenges his persona within the story, role terrifically played by Gérard Blain as the troubled Serge. The cinematography, numerous continuous shots and sequences of true tension slowly evolve as we keep moving forward, just like in a Hitchcock film, until the film shows its greatest talents with a terrific third act.

I swear... These Nouvelle Vague guys in France had some of the greatest debuts in European cinema history...

Super Reviewer
½ May 15, 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.
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.
March 11, 2014
stupid french bro story
½ November 28, 2013
reminds me of early hitchcock
October 2, 2013
Ever wonder what happened to your best friend from childhood you left behind ? This movie is about the tenderness of that friendship. What happens when life happens to a true friendship and how it can and cannot recover. Made with finesse. A great little gem of a film.
½ May 8, 2013
Truly one of the greatest debut films of all time with stunning photography by Henri Decae and a powerhouse performance by Gerard Blain.
February 19, 2013
The "first film" of the celebrated French New Wave is a good film, though not on the level of what was to come a year or two later.
½ January 21, 2013
An early (the earliest?) film in the French New Wave, Chabrol's Le Beau Serge has location shooting going for it (in Chabrol's own country-town birthplace) as well as a looser feel to the camerawork. This doesn't mean that this tale of a young man returning to his hometown after an absence of 12 years doesn't have some beautiful shots -- there are many. But in the end, the focus on Serge ("handsome" Serge), a rather ugly character, though complex, becomes a bit tiresome. The returning fellow is perhaps too weak, too ambivalent about self-sacrifice, that ultimately our identification with him wanes. Chabrol's next feature, Les Cousins, using the same actors, trumps this one (although I must admit the early scenes of "returning home" did resonate).
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.
July 25, 2012
Primeiro filme de Chabrol. François volta a sua vila décadas depois e se reencontra com pessoas com as quais conviveu grande parte de sua vida, já muito diferentes. Assim, François "analisa a todos como se fossem insetos", como afirma uma das personagens. E essa análise lhe causa grande estranhamento - sente-se longe daquela realidade, não consegue compreender certas atitudes, principalmente as de seu melhor amigo, um alcoólatra que não tem mais qualquer perspectiva de futuro.
Eu particularmente gostei muito do roteiro, é bom e envolvente.
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