Le Beau Serge Reviews
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.
(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(Bernadette Lafont) scene, which regards to the reaction from François which that one scene can be defined as totally outdated.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
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...
Eu particularmente gostei muito do roteiro, é bom e envolvente.