Les Cousins (1959)
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as Clovis Dalbecque
as Italian Count
as Cleaning lady
Critic Reviews for Les Cousins
The director tackles his great theme-the puncturing of bourgeois moralism, albeit at a price-with a joyful, quasi-Nietzschean derision.
Concise progression, fine technical aspects, and the look at innocence destroyed by the profane keeps it absorbing, despite the slightly pretentious treatment at times.
A fine, richly detailed tableau of student life in Paris, and Chabrol's first statement (in his second film) of his sardonic view of life as a matter of the survival of the fittest.
M. Chabrol has more skill with the camera than he has with the pen, and his picture is more credible to the eye than it is to the skeptical mind. But it is not the less overwhelming.
This is Chabrol's second film, and its subtle development of character points toward the dense structures of his later films with their reluctance either to condemn or extol without reservation.
Audience Reviews for Les Cousins
This movie by French New Wave filmmaker Claude Chabrol has a pretty simple plot, but was enjoyable nonetheless. In a nutshell, Charles, an innocent and earnest young law student, moves to Paris from the provinces to live with Paul, his sophisticated, profligate cousin. He's immediately exposed to the party life, which is both wild (there is a lot of flirting and bottle smashing) and somewhat amusing (the young men are all in suits and ties, play Bridge in bars, and listen to Mozart and Wagner at parties). He falls for Florence, a woman who's been around, and while she wants to have a meaningful relationship, she's convinced by Paul and another friend that she'll find him boring. She ends up with Paul instead, and moves in with the two of them. Charles actually takes it quite well, sharing meals with them and doing his best to ignore them, for example, as they shower together. He gets a free book and great advice from a bookseller (study hard, and "Read Dostoyevsky - he addresses all your concerns!"), who was naturally my favorite character :). Exams loom, and while Charles tries to apply himself, Paul parties on. I won't spoil it any more than I already have. This was one of those old movies that was anything but boring. The New Wave movement had as its aim to make movies that were different in content and style, and this succeeds; it's quite edgy for its time, and Chabrol has some great shot sequences here. Seeing it really transported me to the Latin Quarter in 1959 Paris.
Absorbing. Gerard Blain is subtle, yet mesmerizing.
Les Cousins is Claude Chabrol's second feature that he wrote at the same time as his first, Le beau Serge, but filmed second as Le beau Serge was the simpler of the two. Les Cousins reverses the roles of Gerard Blain and Jean-Cluade Brialy in drastic ways and really adds a perfect contrast and makes Les Cousins and Le beau Serge companion pieces to one another. A great and complex story that appears very normal and common, hides the complexity of the characters and deals with deeper issues that include loyalty, family, success and the world we live in and our choices in it. A very fascinating and enchanting piece of cinema that really gets underneath your skin! If you are into French film this is a must see!
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